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Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman

Lev Parnas (born February 6, 1972)[1] and Igor Fruman (born 1966)[2] are associates of Rudy Giuliani who have aided him with his search in Ukraine for detrimental information on U.S. President Donald Trump's political opponents. This included looking for evidence for a narrative to counter Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation and information on former Vice President Joe Biden.[3][4][5][6] Both individuals are Soviet-born Florida real estate businessmen and naturalized American citizens.[7][8][9] As a result of their activities, they are central figures in the Trump–Ukraine scandal.

Background and careersEdit

Both men are immigrants and U.S. citizens.

Parnas was born to a Jewish family[10] in 1972 in Odessa, Ukraine, when it was still part of the USSR. His family brought him at the age of three to the U.S., first to Detroit, and then a year later to Brooklyn. He was a student at Brooklyn College and Baruch College. He also worked at Kings Highway Realty, where he sold Trump Organization co-ops. In 1995, Parnas moved to Florida, where he worked in several businesses. He became a broker, working with such organizations as Euro-Atlantic Securities, Mammoth Bullion and Monolith Bullion, and founding his own company, Parnas Holdings. After being involved in a failed film project, he partnered with Igor Fruman in an energy related venture.[11][12] The Miami Herald maintains he "left a long trail of debts in Florida and beyond."[13]

In 2019, Parnas served as a translator for a legal case involving Dmytro Firtash, one of Ukraine's wealthiest oligarchs with self-admitted mob connections,[14] who is fighting extradition to the U.S. to face bribery charges. Firtash has lived in Vienna for five years. "Mr. Parnas was retained by DiGenova & Toensing, LLP as an interpreter in order to communicate with their client Mr. Firtash, who does not speak English," the firm said in a statement.[15]

Fruman was born to a Jewish family[10] in Kalinkovichi, Gomel, Belarus and immigrated to the U.S., later working in Ukraine for a time.[2] He lived in the Detroit metropolitan area before moving to South Florida. He has owned an import/export business in Ukraine as well as a beach bar named Mafia Rave in Odessa, Ukraine.[16] [11][17] Fruman attended the state funeral in December 2018 of former U.S. president George H.W. Bush, apparently as a guest of Rudy Giuliani.[18] Fruman's marriage to Yelyzaveta Naumova ended in divorce.[19]

In addition to working on joint business and political efforts, Parnas and Fruman have both been recognized for their involvement in Jewish charities and causes in the U.S., Ukraine and Israel.[20] Fruman and Parnas are also both on the board of a Ukranian-Jewish charity, "Friends of Anatevka", founded by Ukranian rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman, to provide a refuge for Jews affected by the Russian military intervention in Ukraine. [21]

Connection to Trump–Ukraine scandalEdit

In 2018, Parnas and Fruman hired Giuliani, the president's personal attorney, to serve as a consultant as the two, according to Giulani, were "ramping up" a security business with the felicitous name "Fraud Guarantee".[22] Confusingly, Florida authorities apparently dissolved the company in September 2014 for failing to file an annual report, which would have limited the company to activities related to closing it down.[23]

Republican donor and Trump supporter Long Island attorney Charles Gucciardo paid Giuliani on behalf of Fraud Guarantee in two $250,000 payments, in September and October 2018.[24][25]

Late in 2018, Giuliani sent the two to Ukraine to search for damaging information on Trump's U.S. political rivals. "Their mission was to find people and information that could be used to undermine the Special Counsel's investigation, and also to damage former Vice President Joseph R. Biden."[26] Both were also at the center of the pro-Trump forces' push to remove Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, because her loyalty to President Trump was deemed deficient as Trump pursued his agenda there.[26] The two also pressed for support for allegations that former Ukrainian officials schemed to manipulate the 2016 election to support Hillary Clinton, by revealing adverse information about Paul Manafort, chairman of Trump's campaign, which became a central element in Mueller's special counsel investigation.

In the United States, while lodging at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., Parnas, Fruman and leading members of Congress pushed for the ambassador's removal because she had angered Ukrainian confederates in Kiev. Also, over the course of a year beginning in 2018, the two men introduced Giuliani to Ukrainians who were amenable to promoting "a largely unsubstantiated narrative about the Bidens."[26] These included Yuriy Lutsenko, a former Prosecutor General of Ukraine, who was critical to Giuliani's efforts to produce damaging information. Viktor Shokin, also a former Prosecutor General of Ukraine, was part of this group.

The New York field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), along with SDNY prosecutors, are conducting a criminal investigation of Giuliani's relationship with Parnas and Fruman.[27] Giuliani is under investigation for potentially violating lobbying laws.[28]

Parnas is being legally represented by John M. Dowd, who was Trump's personal attorney in the Mueller investigation in 2017-18. Dowd initially represented Fruman as well.[29]

ArrestEdit

External video
  Press conference with U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman and Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's New York office William Sweeney on the arrest of Parnas and Fruman, October 10, 2019, C-SPAN

Parnas and Fruman were arrested on the evening of October 9, 2019, at Dulles International Airport, and charged with planning to direct funds from a foreign government "to U.S. politicians while trying to influence U.S.-Ukraine relations". They were arrested while trying to leave the United States. The reason for their arrest was described as a "complex web of financial and political interactions linking diplomacy to alleged violations of campaign finance law."[30] The head of the New York's FBI office described the investigation as "about corrupt behavior, deliberate lawbreaking".[8][7][30]

The charges have also directly connected Parnas and Fruman to the campaign to oust the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, from her post and have her recalled.[31] This occurred over many months.[7] In 2018, the operation included Parnas and Fruman donating funds and pledging further additional moneys to an unnamed Congressman, who was recruited for the "campaign to oust her."[31] Some of the funds violated campaign limits. The funds were funneled through a shell company, Global Energy Producers.[32]Parnas and Fruman were also charged with unlawful campaign contributions. Based on campaign finance filings, former congressional Representative Pete Sessions (R-Texas) has been identified as the unnamed Congressman. In 2018, as the Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Sessions wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying that Yovanovitch should be fired for privately expressing "disdain" for the Trump administration.[31]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Entous, Adam (October 15, 2019). "How Lev Parnas Became Part of the Trump Campaign's "One Big Family"". The New Yorker.
  2. ^ a b "Russian-speaking businessman took part in Trump's meeting with potential donors to his 2020 campaign of the year". ForumDaily. March 6, 2018. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  3. ^ "Two Unofficial US Operatives Reporting To Trump's Lawyer Privately Lobbied A Foreign Government In A Bid To Help The President Win In 2020". BuzzFeed News.
  4. ^ "Two Key Players In The Ukraine Controversy Spent Lavishly As They Dug For Dirt on Biden". BuzzFeed News.
  5. ^ "Giuliani's Ukraine Goons Arrested Trying to Flee the U.S." Vanity Fair. Condé Nast.
  6. ^ Aruna Viswanatha; Rebecca Ballhaus; Sadie Gurman; Byron Tau. "Two Giuliani Associates Who Helped Him on Ukraine Charged With Campaign-Finance Violations". The Wall Street Journal.
  7. ^ a b c Butler, Desmond; Biesekler, Michael; Lardner, Richard (October 6, 2019). "AP sources: Trump allies pressed Ukraine over gas firm". Associated Press. Archived from the original on October 7, 2019. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Berman, Geoffrey S. "United States of America v. Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, David Correia, and Andrey Kukushkin" (PDF) (Sealed indictment). United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. p. 5. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 12, 2019. Retrieved October 12, 2019 – via The Wall Street Journal.
  9. ^ Vogel, Kenneth P. (October 10, 2019). "Giuliani's Ukraine Team: In Search of Influence, Dirt and Money". The New York Times.
  10. ^ a b Shimron, Yonat (November 13, 2019). "Why are so many players in the impeachment trial Jewish?". Religion News Service. In fact, Vindman, Parnas and Fruman were able to immigrate to the U.S. precisely because they are Jewish.
  11. ^ a b "How Lev Parnas Became Part of the Trump Campaign's 'One Big Family'", The New Yorker, October 15, 2019
  12. ^ "Giuliani's arrested associates have tangled past", Financial Times, October 11, 2019
  13. ^ "Florida Businessmen with Giuliani, Ukraine ties arrested on campaign finance charges", Miami Herald, October 10, 2019
  14. ^ "Married to the Ukranian Mob", Foreign Policy, March 19, 2014
  15. ^ "A Giuliani associate also worked for indicted Ukrainian oligarch", New York Post, October 11, 2019
  16. ^ "Arrested Giuliani Ukraine Associates Operated Companies Called 'Fraud Guarantee' and 'Mafia Rave'", Newsweek, October 11, 2019
  17. ^ "Giuliani and Former Detroit Fruman Arrested", The Jewish News, October 11, 2019
  18. ^ "Jeb Bush is disappointed Rudy Giuliani brought now-indicted associate to George H.W. Bush's state funeral", The Week, October 16, 2019
  19. ^ "Meet the Florida Duo Helping Giuliani Investigate for Trump in Ukraine", OCCRP, July 22, 2019
  20. ^ "Congress Wants Answers From Two Men Who Led Smear Campaign Against Biden — Under Giuliani's Direction". BuzzFeed News.
  21. ^ "Orthodox Synagogue association honored 2 Giuliani associates before arrests", The Times of Israel, October 11, 2019
  22. ^ Helderman, Rosalind S.; Dawsey, Josh; Sonne, Paul; Hamburger, Tom (October 12, 2019). "How two Soviet-born emigres made it into elite Trump circles — and the center of the impeachment storm". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  23. ^ Eaton, Joshua; Timms, Ed (October 17, 2019). "State officials dissolved company long before $500K deal with Giuliani". Roll Call. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  24. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/06/us/politics/ukraine-giuliani-charles-gucciardo.html
  25. ^ https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-impeachment-giuliani-idUSKBN1XH29L
  26. ^ a b c Vogel, Kenneth P. (October 10, 2019). "Giuliani's Ukraine Team: In Search of Influence, Dirt and Money". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 11, 2019.
  27. ^ Katersky, Aaron; Margolin, Josh (October 11, 2019). "Rudy Giuliani's relationship with arrested men is subject of criminal investigation: Sources". ABC News. Archived from the original on October 11, 2019. Retrieved October 11, 2019.
  28. ^ Schmidt, Michael S.; Protess, Ben; Vogel, Kenneth P.; Rashbaum, William K. (October 11, 2019). "Giuliani Is Said to Be Under Investigation for Ukraine Work". The New York Times. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  29. ^ Bump, Philip (October 21, 2019). "It's not just Giuliani: The intertwining team focused on Trump and Ukraine". The Washington Post.
  30. ^ a b Barrett, Devlin; Wagner, John; Helderman, Rosalind S. (October 10, 2018). "Two business associates of Trump's personal attorney Giuliani have been arrested on campaign finance charges". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 12, 2019. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
  31. ^ a b c Mazzetti, Mark; Sullivan, Eileen; Goldman, Adam; Rashbaum, William K. (October 10, 2019). "2 Giuliani Associates Tied to Ukraine Scandal Arrested on Campaign Finance Charges". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 11, 2019.
  32. ^ Ari Shapiro. "How A Complicated Web Connects 2 Soviet-Born Businessmen With The Impeachment Inquiry". NPR.

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