Two Soviet-born businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who provided frequent and significant help to Rudy Giuliani with his Ukraine efforts to engineer investigations of Joe Biden and 2016 election involvement, were arrested yesterday and charged with Campaign Finance violations. The arrest took place at Dulles airport in Virginia as they were arriving back in the US.
The two have been under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, and are expected to appear in federal court in Virginia later on Thursday, the people said. Both men were born in former Soviet republics.
Rudy Giuliani identified the two men in May as his clients. He also confirmed that they were the ones who initially put him in touch with Ukrainian prosecutors in November 2018. Both men have donated to Republican campaigns including Mr. Trump’s, and in May 2018 gave $325,000 to the primary pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, through an LLC called Global Energy Producers, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Fruman had dinner with the president in early May 2018, according to since-deleted Facebook posts captured in a report published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.
They also met with the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr. , later that month at a fundraising breakfast in Beverly Hills, Calif., along with Tommy Hicks Jr. , a close friend of the younger Mr. Trump who at the time was heading America First Action. Mr. Parnas posted a photo of their breakfast four days after his LLC donated to the super PAC.
The Daily Beast reports
Parnas and Fruman are charged with making illegal straw donations, including a $325,000 contribution to the group America First Action. As The Daily Beast first reported, that donation actually came from an entirely different, undisclosed company owned by Parnas. It is illegal to donate to federal political candidates in the name of another person or entity.Prosecutors allege a host of other, smaller straw donations designed, they say, to both evade federal campaign contribution limits and conceal the actual sources of the funds. Parnas is currently facing a civil lawsuit attempting to collect more than $500,000 that he owes a jilted business partner from a years-old movie deal gone bad. In addition to the straw donations, prosecutors say that Parnas, Fruman, and their co-conspirators made donations using money provided by an unnamed foreign national, who was ineligible to contribute to federal political campaigns under U.S. law.
UPDATE: Here is a link to the just-released indictment:
UPDATE 2: Wall Street Journal and others are now reporting they had lunch with Rudy Giuliani hours before going to Dulles airport with one way tickets to Frankfurt, Germany, and were arrested.