NEW YORK – An indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, received $1 million from the lawyer of a wealthy Ukrainian oligarch who’s under federal indictment in an alleged bribery scheme.
Dmitry Firtash is charged with using U.S. financial institutions to bribe Indian officials for titanium mining licenses. His Swiss lawyer loaned the money to the wife of Lev Parnas in September, federal prosecutors and a defense lawyer revealed Tuesday.
Some of that money went to pay Parnas’ bail, according to his defense attorney.
The disclosure raises further questions about Parnas’ financial dealings as he helped Giuliani push for the ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and seek a Ukrainian investigation into the family of former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s vying to challenge Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
The revelations came during a Manhattan federal court hearing where prosecutors urged a judge to revoke Parnas’ $200,000 bail on grounds he hid assets and income from authorities.
Defense lawyer Joseph Bondy insisted that Parnas did not provide false information about his finances and he won’t try to flee the country to avoid trial and a possible 30-year prison term.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul Oetken denied prosecutors’ motion to jail Parnas, saying his misstatements didn’t appear to be intentional. He also denied Bondy’s request to ease the conditions of Parnas’ home detention as he awaits trial for a campaign finance conspiracy scheme.
“I feel so relieved,” Parnas said before he thanked supporters and hugged Bondy amid a cold rain outside the courthouse.
Parnas, 47, a Ukraine-born businessman, was indicted in October with Belarus-born business associate Igor Fruman on charges they schemed to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars in foreign funds to U.S. political candidates and campaign committees.
They’re also accused, with co-defendants David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, of directing foreign funds to politicians in Nevada and New York in order to win support for a retail cannabis business.
Prosecutors have signaled the likelihood of additional charges against the four men, who have pleaded not guilty.
Parnas and Fruman figure in the House impeachment proceeding against Trump.
They helped Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and federal prosecutor, seek damaging information about Biden in Ukraine, which he has said he did behalf of the president. They also reportedly aided Giuliani in seeking the ouster of Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Giuliani gave Trump information that he said showed Yovanovitch had blocked his investigations in Ukraine on the president’s behalf, The New York Times reported on Monday.
After Trump complained about Yovanovitch, the U.S. Department of State abruptly pulled her from her post in May.
Separately, Parnas had disclosed that he worked as a translator for Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing, Washington, D.C.-based attorneys who have represented Firtash.
However, lawyers’ statements in court Tuesday revealed Parnas has more extensive ties to the Ukrainian oligarch, who was a former business associate of Paul Manafort, a 2016 manager of Trump’s presidential campaign now in prison.
Firtash was indicted in 2013 in an alleged bribery scheme that involved titanium products that were to be sold to U.S.-based aerospace giant Boeing. He is currently in Austria, where he is fighting extradition to federal court in Chicago.
In a 2017 federal court filing in the bribery case, U.S. prosecutors identified Firtash as an upper-echelon associate of Russian organized crime.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebekah Donaleski said Parnas’ wife, Svetlana, received five wire transfers of $200,000 each in September from another lawyer for Firtash.
Bondy identified the attorney as Ralph Oswald Isenegger, a Swiss national whose office is now based in Dubai. Isenegger could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Donaleski argued it’s “not credible” that those transfers were a friendly loan, without collateral, to Parnas’ unemployed wife. The prosecutor contended that money instead was earmarked for Parnas, who has been the target of unrelated lawsuits aimed at getting him to repay debts.
Bondy said most of the money from Firtash’s lawyer has been spent, including $200,000 used to secure Parnas’ bond. That disclosure prompted Donaleski to question where Parnas is getting the money to pay for his legal defense and support his family.
Bondy didn’t respond. However, he disputed any implication that Firtash was “some kind of benefactor” for Parnas.
He added that Parnas’ recent actions, which include providing documents and other information subpoenaed by the House for the Trump impeachment proceeding, placed the two men at odds. Parnas has made those efforts since he was arrested.
Bondy said he believes Parnas “has burned that bridge to the extent that there ever was a bridge in terms of getting any money.”
Bondy argued in a court filing Monday that Parnas has been threatened in Ukraine and would not flee there to avoid a U.S. trial. Tuesday, Bondy identified the source of the threat as Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky.
Kolomoisky, the billionaire founder of Ukraine’s Privatbank, “has a reputation for some form of violence in the Ukraine,” Bondy said.
On May 18, Giuliani tweeted that Kolomoisky was under investigation by the FBI and accused him of threatening American citizens, a reference to Parnas and Fruman.
Parnas has filed a Ukraine criminal case against Kolomoisky, Bondy said.
Kolomoisky has close ties to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. The TV network owned by the oligarch aired a comedy show that brought Zelensky fame.