Rudy Giuliani’s Ukrainian business associate arrives in court for closing arguments after declining to testify on charges he used a Russian financier’s money to make illegal donations to U.S. political candidates
- Lev Parnas, 49, heard prosecutors deliver their closing arguments on Thursday
- He denies hatching a plan to funnel $1 million of foreign funds into U.S. elections, despite knowing he was breaking campaign finance laws
- On Thursday he declined to take the stand and offer evidence in his defense
- His defense attorney said the allegations against him were ‘absurd’
- ‘There was no effort to hide anything, whatsoever,’ said Joseph Bondy
A Ukrainian business associate of Rudy Giuliani returned to court on Thursday for closing arguments a day after he declined to take the stand in his trial for allegedly donating to political campaigns using money from a Russian financier.
Lev Parnas, 49, heard prosecutors outline their case that he hatched a scheme to funnel $1 million of foreign funds into U.S. elections despite knowing he was breaking campaign finance laws.
In response, a defense attorney told the New York City jury that the government had failed to prove its case.
Parnas and his co-defendant Andrey Kukushkin have pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them.
The trial has generated global headlines because of Parnas’ ties to Giuliani, a vocal supporter of former President Trump’s election fraud claims.
Parnas has said he worked with Trump’s personal lawyer to investigate President Biden’s son Hunter, whose role in a Ukrainian energy company has been under scrutiny.
In his closing argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagan Scotten accused the two defendants of using ‘lies and tricks’ to conceal the source of the donation.
Rudi Giuliani associate and Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas, 49, arrives at court to hear closing arguments in his trial for allegedly donating to political campaigns using money from a Russian financier
Parnas poses for a selfie with his lawyer Joseph Bundy outside the United States Court in Manhattan on Thursday. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges
Parnas listens as the first witness Wes Duncan delivers evidence during the trial last week
Parnas made a series of straw donations despite being ‘told again and again that he couldn’t donate somebody else’s money,’ Scotten said.
The defendant lied to the financier, Andrey Muraviev, about how much he was actually donating, the prosecutor said. He also failed to come through on pledges he was making to candidates, he added.
‘Put simply, Parnas is ripping everybody off,’ he said.
Defense attorney Joseph Bondy called the allegations ‘absurd.’
The lawyer said his client was a legitimate businessperson trying to use loans from Muraviev to launch an energy company that would be involved in exporting natural gas to Europe.
The funds were used for business investments, he said, not campaign contributions.
‘There was no effort to hide anything, whatsoever,’ Bondy said.
He told jurors his client ‘doesn’t want your sympathy. He wants a verdict based on the facts and the law.’
On Wednesday, Parnas told U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken that he would not be testifying in his own defense.
He said he had made the decision after discussing it with his wife and family.
Parnas and another Soviet-born businessman Igor Fruman worked with Rudi Giuliani to persuade Ukraine to investigate the family of Joe Biden
Parnas and another Soviet-born Florida businessman, Igor Fruman, attracted media attention when it emerged they had made big donations through a corporate entity, including a $325,000 contribution in 2018 to America First Action, a super PAC supporting Donald Trump.
The pair then became middlemen in Giuliani’s effort to discredit then-candidate Joe Biden.
They connected Giuliani with Ukrainian officials as the former New York City mayor tried to get that country to open an investigation into the future president’s son, Hunter.
Ukrainian tycoons and officials, meanwhile, sought Giuliani’s help connecting with the Trump administration.
Though Giuliani is not part of the case, he is under investigation in New York for whether he was required to register as an agent of a foreign government for actions he said he took in his capacity as a private attorney for then-President Trump.
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