Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, received a $1 million payment from Russia a month before he was charged with conspiring to funnel foreign money into Republican campaigns in the United States, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Prosecutors for the U.S. Southern District of New York asked a federal judge to detain Parnas without bail, arguing that he lied to the government about his income and assets and could potentially flee the country.
“Parnas failed to disclose, in describing his income to the Government and Pretrial Services, the fact that in September 2019, he received $1 million from a bank account in Russia into Account-1,” prosecutors wrote in its court filing. “While the majority of that money appears to have been used on personal expenses and to purchase a home, as discussed below, some portion of that money existed in Account-1 at the time Parnas submitted his financial affidavit.”
The court filing gave little detail about the purpose of the payment to Parnas, though prosecutors said the money was sent to an account under the name of Svetlana Parnas, the Florida businessman’s wife. The account appeared to be “an attempt to ensure that any assets were held in Svetlana’s, rather than Lev’s, name,” prosecutors said.
The request came after Parnas, who was born in what is now Ukraine and who has worked with Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, filed a motion earlier this month asking for his bail to be modified so that he could spend some time outside each day while he’s under house arrest.
“Parnas’s considerable ties abroad, seemingly limitless access to foreign funds, lack of candor with Pretrial Services about his assets, nature and circumstances of the offense, and powerful incentives to flee show that Parnas is a significant flight risk,” prosecutors wrote.
Joseph Bondy, an attorney representing Parnas, did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Giuliani told HuffPost on Wednesday that he was unaware of Parnas allegedly receiving $1 million from Russia in September. Asked who exactly was paying Parnas and for what, Giuliani replied: “I don’t know.”
Parnas was indicted in October with his associate Igor Fruman on campaign finance charges related to using an unnamed Russian national as their source of funds for political donations to win over state and federal officials for support in beginning a retail marijuana business. The two were arrested at Dulles International Airport in Virginia while trying to board a plane with one-way tickets to Vienna, Austria. Bondy subsequently said his client would comply with the House’s impeachment investigation and provide any documents they want.
It’s unclear whether the same Russian national Parnas and Fruman used in their straw donations was the source of the $1 million payment to Parnas.
The two also helped Giuliani connect with Ukrainian officials including Yuriy Lutsenko, who pushed the unsubstantiated corruption allegations about former Vice President Joe Biden, a Trump presidential rival, and Biden’s son Hunter. Those allegations, which Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate, are at the center of the impeachment investigation.
Parnas and Fruman also helped with ousting Marie Yovanovitch as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine earlier this year.
Bondy has repeatedly asked prosecutors to hand over documents they seized so that Parnas could provide them to the U.S. House for its impeachment investigation into Trump. According to the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report, call records revealed that Parnas communicated with the committee’s ranking member, Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), which Bondy has publicly said his client remembers.
Parnas could face at least five years in prison on the counts with which he’s already been charged, though prosecutors said he is still under investigation and will likely face more charges. That would make it difficult for Parnas to participate in the impeachment investigation, though he’s likely no longer necessary now that Democrats have already drafted articles of impeachment and plan to vote on them within the next week.
Read the court filing below:
This article has been updated with a response from Rudy Giuliani.