Prosecutors file additional charges against Rudy Giuliani associates
Posted September 17, 2020 7:06 p.m. EDT
CNN — Federal prosecutors in New York on Thursday brought additional charges against two associates of Rudy Giuliani -- Lev Parnas and David Correia -- alleging they sought to defraud potential investors to their company Fraud Guarantee.
The indictment also added additional charges against Parnas, Correia and two other men -- Igor Fruman and Andrei Kukushkin -- relating to a foreign donor scheme that prosecutors alleged when the four were originally indicted last October. Though the additional charges filed Thursday don't substantively change the nature of the case, they may increase pressure on the defendants to cooperate with prosecutors.
Lawyers for Parnas, Correia and Kukushkin didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. An attorney for Fruman declined to comment. All the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges in the original indictment and are set to face trial in February.
In the case of Fraud Guarantee, Parnas and Correia allegedly made false and misleading statements to potential investors about how their money would be spent, how much Parnas had contributed to the company and how much the company had raised, according to the indictment. The business was pitched as an insurance policy for companies to protect against frauds, but it isn't clear whether they had any clients, CNN has reported, and "the company never became operational," according to the indictment.
Prosecutors allege Parnas and Correia raised more than $2 million from at least seven investors, and while some of the money was spent on business expenses, the majority was used for personal purposes. According to the indictment, Parnas spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for rent for his personal residence, transferred more than $40,000 to accounts in the names of himself and his wife and spent more than $30,000 for luxury car leases. Thousands of dollars were also withdrawn as cash or transferred to other accounts, including those in the name of Correia's wife.
Neither Parnas' nor Correia's wives have been charged or accused of wrongdoing.
Prosecutors at the Manhattan US Attorney's Office weighed bringing charges related to Fraud Guarantee for many months, with FBI agents and prosecutors interviewing investors who were pitched on the Florida-based company, CNN has reported, and subpoenaing text messages and other documents related to the effort.
In 2018, the company paid Giuliani -- President Donald Trump's personal attorney -- $500,000.
An attorney for a wealthy Republican donor, Charles Gucciardo, has told CNN that Gucciardo paid Giuliani's firm on behalf of Fraud Guarantee.
Though Gucciardo has said Giuliani was paid to promote the company, Giuliani's lawyer has said he performed legal work. In the indictment filed Thursday, prosecutors didn't refer to Giuliani or address any payment to him from the company.
But in referring to "Victim-7," they describe an individual who invested $500,000 in Fraud Guarantee between September and October 2018 by transmitting the funds to an account held by a consulting firm that Parnas and Correia had retained on the company's behalf.
Prosecutors also added new charges relating to the alleged foreign donor schemes, now charging the men with soliciting a foreign national donation to US elections and aiding and abetting and making donations by a foreign national into federal and state elections.
In addition to the new charges, prosecutors also added a forfeiture charge seeking to recover money traced to the alleged schemes. Prosecutors have previously raised questions about the murkiness of Parnas' finances.
One item removed from the indictment is a reference to the ouster of the then-US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. In the initial indictment, prosecutors alleged Parnas and Fruman committed to raising money for a US congressman whose assistance they sought "in causing the US government to remove or recall the then-US ambassador to Ukraine." Prosecutors alleged that Parnas' effort was conducted, in part, at the request of one or more Ukrainian government officials.
The new indictment does not include any reference to the Ukrainian official or the US ambassador. It isn't clear whether that is a reflection of the evidence collected. In a note to the judge, prosecutors wrote the new indictment "streamlines certain factual allegations" in the straw donor scheme