• 2 Rudy Giuliani associates accused of campaign finance violations

    By: Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    Authorities arrested two Florida businessmen tied to President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and the Ukraine investigation as they were attempting to leave the country Wednesday night, officials said.

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    Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Rudy Giuliani, were arrested Wednesday on a four-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records.

    Two other men, David Correia and Andrey Kuushkin, were also indicted, according to court records. Authorities said Thursday afternoon that Kuushkin had been apprehended in San Francisco. Correia remained at large.

    Parnas and Fruman were central to Giuliani's efforts to get government officials in Ukraine to investigate business dealings by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter in the war-torn former Soviet republic, according to The Associated Press. The men are also under congressional scrutiny as part of the impeachment inquiry against Trump, Cox Media Group's Jamie Dupree reported.

    The defendants are accused of scheming to funnel foreign money into federal and state elections and taking steps to conceal the true source of the funding. In an indictment, prosecutors said Parnas and Fruman contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to campaigns while working to further the interests of at least one unnamed Ukrainian government official.

    The Campaign Legal Center, a transparency advocacy group, filed a complaint last year with the FEC regarding campaign contributions made by Parnas and Fruman, The Wall Street Journal reported. The group asked the FEC to investigate whether the pair had violated campaign-finance laws by using a limited liability company to disguise the source of the contributed funds, according to the Journal.

    >> Read the indictment from the Southern District of New York

    Among other scrutinized transactions, prosecutors said in the indictment that Parnas and Fruman made a $325,000 contribution last year to an independent expenditure committee, identified by the Miami Herald as the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action, and falsely claimed the funds came from a liquefied natural gas import-export company called Global Energy Producers. Prosecutors said the business essentially acted as a shell company for Parnas and Fruman.

    In a statement released Thursday, a spokeswoman for America First Action said the money contributed by Parnas and Fruman would be kept in a separate account while the court cases play out.

    The big PAC donation in May 2018 was part of a flurry of political spending tied to Parnas and Fruman, with at least $478,000 in donations flowing to GOP campaigns and PACs in little more than two months.

    Parnas has known Giuliani for years and worked with Fruman to connect the attorney to Ukrainian prosecutors, as Giuliani pressed authorities in the country to investigate Biden, The New York Times reported in May.

    Giuliani's efforts to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation were echoed by Trump in his July 25 call with Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky. The conversation prompted a whistleblower complaint and a subsequent impeachment inquiry.

    The complaint, submitted by an unnamed intelligence official, made reference to "associates" of Giuliani in Ukraine who were attempting to make contact with Zelensky's team, though it was not immediately clear whether the whistleblower was referring to either Parnas or Fruman.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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