US charges Russian businessman in case involving Giuliani associates

Unsealed charges say Andrey Muraviev illegally contributed to US political candidates

Federal prosecutors in the state of New York charged Andrey Muraviev with two counts of violating campaign finance law by contributing to US political candidates with the help of Rudy Giuliani's associates. Reuters

A US court on Monday unsealed campaign finance violation charges against Russian businessman Andrey Muraviev as part of a case implicating two associates of former president Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Federal prosecutors in the state of New York charged Mr Muraviev with two counts of violating campaign finance law by contributing to US political candidates with the help of Mr Giuliani's associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.

Foreign citizens are barred from donating funds to US election campaigns.

The court had kept the indictment sealed since it was filed on September 17, 2020, with Monday's unsealing coming as Washington moves to hit wealthy Russian businessmen with sanctions, asset seizures and criminal charges in a bid to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine.

Parnas was convicted of six counts of campaign finance offences in October, with prosecutors saying he used $100,000 from Mr Muraviev to donate to candidates who could help him and Fruman obtain licences to operate legal cannabis companies in the US.

“[Mr Muraviev] attempted to corrupt our political system to advance his business interests,” US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said on Monday.

He added that his office would continue “rooting out efforts by foreigners to interfere with our elections".

Fruman had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of soliciting money from a foreign citizen for a political campaign.

Parnas and Fruman, who were born in Ukraine and Belarus, respectively, are best known for helping Mr Giuliani investigate President Joe Biden before the 2020 US presidential election.

Mr Giuliani, also a former New York City mayor, has not been charged with any crime and has denied wrongdoing.

Andrey Kukushkin, a Ukraine-born California businessman who worked with Mr Muraviev, was convicted of campaign offences alongside Fruman last year.

His lawyer on Monday said he was hoping to help the Ukraine war relief effort in lieu of serving prison time.

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration has imposed sweeping sanctions against Russian banks, companies and key individuals as well as a ban on energy imports from the country.

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated: March 14, 2022, 9:59 PM
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