UPDATE 3 - US Charges 2 Men Linked To Giuliani's Ukraine-Biden Probe With Campaign Finance Violations


UPDATE 3 - US Charges 2 Men Linked to Giuliani's Ukraine-Biden Probe With Campaign Finance Violations

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 11th October, 2019) Two businessman who reportedly helped Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's involvement in Ukraine face charges of violating US campaign funding laws, according to an indictment unsealed in New York on Thursday.

The indictment charges Lev Parnas and Igor Furman, both US citizens who Giuliani has said were his clients, and two others of funneling $1 million in illegal donations from foreign nationals to unspecified political campaigns.

"Lev Parnas, Igor Furman, David Correia, and Andrey Kuskushkin, the defendants, conspired to circumvent the Federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates ... so that the defendants could buy potential influence," said the indictment, which was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In one of several schemes they are accused of carrying out, the four men allegedly conspired to make political donations to US candidates funded by a foreign national, who the indictment identified as "a Russian citizen and businessman who, at all relevant times, was not a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States."

In another plot, the four men donated money to a member of Congress and then tried to press that lawmaker to "remove or recall the then-US Ambassador to Ukraine." That effort, the indictment alleged, was carried out "at least in part, at the request of one or more Ukrainian government officials."

Parnas, who the indictment said was born in Ukraine, and Fruman, born in Belarus, have both been arrested and are scheduled to appear in a federal court in Virginia later on Thursday.

US Attorney Jeff Berman said during a press briefing on Thursday that Parnas and Fruman were arrested at around Dulles International Airport on Wednesday night while attempting to board an international flight out of the United States with one-way tickets.

Bill Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York office, said during the same briefing that co-defendant Kuskushkin was arrested in San Francisco shortly after Parnas and Fruman were apprehended in Virginia, while Correia remains at large.

Sweeney emphasized that the investigation is ongoing and is focused on uncovering genuine corruption.

"These allegations are not about some technicality, a civil violation or an error on a form. This investigation is about corrupt behavior, deliberate law-breaking," Sweeney said.

The indictment did not mention Giuliani by name, but the lawyer in a May 18 Twitter post identified both Parnas and Fruman as his clients.

Lawmakers in the US House of Representatives have sought to depose both Parnas and Fruman as part of their ongoing impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump.

Parnas and Fruman said in a letter to lawmakers on October 3 that they would not hand over documents or comply with requests to appear for House depositions scheduled for Thursday and Friday. In response, House lawmakers on Thursday issued subpoenas to force the two men to testify by October 16.

The two men have reportedly been involved since 2018 in Giuliani's effort to get Ukrainian officials to investigate allegations of corruption on the part of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.