WASHINGTON – Lev Parnas, a Soviet-born former associate of Rudy Giuliani who worked to dig up dirt on President Donald Trump’s political rivals, is facing additional charges for allegedly defrauding potential investors in order to raise money for his company.
Parnas and a business partner were charged with wire fraud in connection with an effort to raise money for a company called Fraud Guarantee, federal prosecutors in Manhattan announced Thursday. He and three other men are already facing charges in a scheme to funnel foreign money to U.S. political campaigns.
The criminal charges, first filed at the height of the impeachment inquiry against Trump, were brought by an office of the Department of Justice that has also been examining Giuliani and his business ties in Ukraine. Giuliani, Parnas and another Soviet-born associate, Igor Fruman, were instrumental in the effort to find damaging information on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden — the scheme that led to the impeachment inquiry against Trump.
Before they were indicted, the two showered Republican campaign committees with nearly $500,000 and dined with Trump at the White House.
The new fraud charges involve Parnas and his business partner, David Correia, who are accused of swindling victims into investing in Fraud Guarantee, a company that was supposed to protect investors from fraud.
“‘Fraud Guarantee’ takes on a different meaning in light of today’s allegations that the company was a vehicle for committing fraud, not insuring against it,” Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement.
Prosecutors said the two falsely claimed the funds will be used for legitimate business purposes, but, instead, used the money to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent and luxury car leases and to make political donations.
More than $30,000 in investors’ contributions went to luxury car companies, and $50,000 funded a political contribution, according to the indictment.
At least seven investors collectively put more than $2 million into Fraud Guarantee, including one who taped Correia saying, “Millions, man. I don’t misspeak,” when the victim asked how much had been invested in the company, according to the indictment.
Giuliani associates charged:Two Giuliani associates involved in Trump-Ukraine controversy arrested on campaign finance charges
Parnas and Correia also misrepresented Parnas’ personal investment in Fraud Guarantee, claiming that his “capital account” was as high as $1.1 million, prosecutors said.
Parnas, Fruman, Correia and another associate, Andrey Kukushkin, were charged in October 2019 of violating campaign finance laws by funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars in foreign money to federal and state candidates and political action committees.
The questioned funding included a $325,000 contribution to a political action committee backing Trump.
Responding to the new charges, Joseph Bondy, Parnas’ attorney, said in a tweet that his client has been on strict home confinement for nearly a year as he waited for the additional charges.
Correia’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.