Businessmen Tied To Giuliani Arrested On Alleged Campaign Finance Violations

WCBS 880 Newsroom
October 10, 2019 - 10:22 am
Rudolph Giuliani

Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) --  Two Florida businessmen with ties to President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, have been arrested and charged with violating campaign finance rules, CBS News has confirmed.

According to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the arrests, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman are foreign-born donors to a pro-Trump fundraising committee who helpled Giuliani's efforts to investigate Joe Biden.

Parnas was born in the Ukraine and Fruman in Belarus. Both are U.S. citizens.

A four-count indictment charges Parnas and Fruman with conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records.

The Associated Press reports records show they used wire transfers from a corporate entity they controlled to make a $325,000 donation to the America First Action committee in 2018. Records that became public through a lawsuit show that the corporate entity reported as making the transaction was not the true source of the money.

Kelly Sadler, a spokeswoman for America First Action, says it's put the donation on hold and that the money won't be used for any purpose and will remain in a separate account while the court cases play out. 
 
Kelly Sadler says the committee takes its legal obligations seriously and that it will "scrupulously comply with the law.'' 

Federal prosecutors also allege Parnas and Fruman asked a U.S. congressman to help remove the American ambassador to Ukraine after the men committed to raising more than $20,000 for the politician.
 
The congressman isn't identified by name in court papers.  
 
The indictment alleges Parnas met with the congressman at an event sponsored by an independent expenditure committee funded by him and Fruman. According to the court papers, the congressman received about $3 million from the committee during the 2018 election cycle. 
 
The documents say Parnas' efforts to have the U.S. ambassador removed were "conducted, at least in part, at the request of one or more Ukrainian government officials.'' 
 
Prosecutors say Fruman made a contribution of $2,700 to the congressman's campaign, the federal maximum, and made an additional $2,700 donation in Parnas' name. 

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman told reporters Thursday that Parnas and Fruman were about to board an international fight from Virginia with one-way tickets when they were detained at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

A lawyer for the defendants has not commented.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.