World12 minutes ago (Oct 21, 2021 06:21AM ET)
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Lev Parnas, Ukrainian-American businessman and former Giuliani associate, arrives at the United States Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., October 19, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Closing arguments are set to begin on Thursday in the campaign finance trial of a former associate of Rudy Giuliani, in a case that has given a glimpse into the inner workings of U.S. political fundraising.
Prosecutors have accused Lev Parnas of donating a Russian businessman’s money to U.S. political campaigns and seeking to conceal his identity for other contributions in several 2018 elections. He faces six criminal charges, including making a contribution by a foreign national and falsification of records.
In closing arguments in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors are likely to point to financial records they presented to the jury that showed Russian businessman Andrey Muraviev sent money to a U.S. bank account that funded Parnas’ contributions.
The Ukraine-born Parnas has pleaded not guilty. His defense attorney, Joseph Bondy, has argued that Muraviev’s funds were used for business investments, not campaign contributions.
A co-defendant, Muraviev associate Andrey Kukushkin, pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy to make contributions by a foreign national and making a contribution by a foreign national. His attorneys argue he was not involved with campaign contributions.
The trial has drawn attention because of the role Parnas and a former business partner, Igor Fruman, played in helping Giuliani – Donald Trump’s former personal attorney – investigate Democrat Joe Biden during the 2020 campaign. Biden won the November election, denying Trump a second term in the White House.
The Belarus-born Fruman pleaded guilty in September to soliciting campaign contributions from a foreign national.
Giuliani’s attorney has said the Parnas case is separate from a probe into whether he violated lobbying laws while representing Trump. Giuliani, a former New York mayor, has not been charged with any crimes and denies wrongdoing.
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