Two businessmen from the former Soviet Union, who are linked to efforts by U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer to investigate his political foes, have pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to hide illegal campaign contributions to politicians.
Ukrainian-born Lev Parnas and Belarus native Igor Fruman made the pleas on October 23 in a Manhattan federal court.
“Many false things have been said about me and my family…. I will be vindicated,” Parnas said outside the courthouse. Fruman did not speak to reporters.
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office said on October 10 that Parnas and Fruman, who are associated with Rudy Giuliani, the Republican president’s personal lawyer, had been apprehended at Dulles International Airport outside Washington the previous day.
Prosecutors allege that the two men, both U.S. citizens, made donations while lobbying U.S. politicians to oust Washington’s ambassador to Ukraine at the time, Marie Yovanovitch.
Giuliani — who at the time was trying to get Ukrainian officials to investigate the son of Trump’s potential Democratic challenger, Joe Biden — has said he knew nothing about the donations.
Prosecutors also say Parnas and Fruman worked with two other men, David Correia and Andrei Kukushkin, in a separate effort to make illegal campaign donations to politicians in several states in an attempt to get support for a new recreational marijuana business.
Correia and the Ukrainian-born Kukushkin, also both U.S. citizens, pleaded not guilty a week ago.
All four men remain free on bail.
The arrests came as Trump faces an impeachment inquiry by the Democrat-led House of Representatives focusing on his and Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine.
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