Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman
Lev Parnas (born February 6, 1972) and Igor Fruman (born 1966) are associates of Rudy Giuliani who allegedly aided him with his search in Ukraine for detrimental information on U.S. President Donald Trump's political opponents. This allegedly included looking for evidence for a narrative to counter Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation and information on former Vice President Joe Biden. Both individuals are Soviet-born Florida real estate businessmen and naturalized American citizens. As a result of their alleged activities, they are figures involved in the Trump–Ukraine scandal.
Background and careers
Both men are immigrants and U.S. citizens.
Parnas was born to a Jewish family in 1972 in Odessa, Ukraine, when it was still part of the USSR. His family brought him at the age of three to the U.S., first to Detroit, and then a year later to Brooklyn. He was a student at Brooklyn College and Baruch College. He also worked at Kings Highway Realty, where he sold Trump Organization co-ops. In 1995, Parnas moved to Florida, where he worked in several businesses. He became a broker, working with such organizations as Euro-Atlantic Securities, Mammoth Bullion and Monolith Bullion, and founding his own company, Parnas Holdings. After being involved in a failed film project, he partnered with Igor Fruman in an energy related venture. The Miami Herald maintains he "left a long trail of debts in Florida and beyond."
In 2019, Parnas served as a translator for a legal case involving Dmytro Firtash, one of Ukraine's wealthiest oligarchs with self-admitted mob connections, who is fighting extradition to the U.S. to face bribery charges. Firtash has lived in Vienna for five years. "Mr. Parnas was retained by DiGenova & Toensing, LLP as an interpreter in order to communicate with their client Mr. Firtash, who does not speak English," the firm said in a statement.
Fruman was born to a Jewish family in Kalinkavichy, Gomel Region, Belarus and immigrated to the U.S., later working in Ukraine for a time. He lived in the Detroit metropolitan area before moving to South Florida. He has owned an import/export business in Ukraine as well as a beach bar named Mafia Rave in Odessa, Ukraine.  Fruman attended the state funeral in December 2018 of former U.S. president George H. W. Bush, apparently as a guest of Rudy Giuliani. Fruman's marriage to Yelyzaveta Naumova ended in divorce.
In addition to working on joint business and political efforts, Parnas and Fruman have been involved in Jewish charities and causes in the U.S., Ukraine and Israel. Fruman and Parnas are on the board of a Ukranian-Jewish charity, "Friends of Anatevka", founded by Ukranian rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman, to provide a refuge for Jews affected by the Russian military intervention in Ukraine. Parnas and Fruman visited Israel in the summer of 2018 as a part of a delegation, led by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and joined by Anthony Scaramucci, of "right-wing Jewish and evangelical supporters of Trump." While there, the group met with various leaders and personalities including the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman, Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair Netanyahu, as well as billionaire Simon Falic, one of Netanyahu’s most generous donors.  Huckabee joined the two once again in March 2019 when they were awarded with the "Chovevei Zion" (Lovers of Zion) awards at a gala for the National Council of Young Israel, an event focused on supporting President Trump and Israeli West Bank settlements. Rudy Giuliani and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (California politician) were in attendance as well. While in Israel Parnas and Fruman also met with oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi, a wealthy Ukrainian under investigation by the Department of Justice for money laundering. 
Connection to Trump–Ukraine scandal
A request by U.S. President Trump (right) to Ukrainian President Zelensky (left) to investigate Joe Biden and his son sparked the scandal.
In 2018, Parnas and Fruman hired Giuliani, the president's personal attorney, to serve as a consultant as the two, according to Giulani, were "ramping up" a security business with the felicitous name "Fraud Guarantee". (Parnas had chosen the name "Fraud Guarantee" in 2013 to clean up his Google search results after accusations of fraud in previous ventures.) Confusingly, Florida authorities had apparently dissolved Fraud Guarantee in September 2014 for failing to file an annual report, which would have limited the company to activities related to closing itself down.
Late in 2018, Giuliani allegedly sent the two to Ukraine to search for damaging information on Trump's U.S. political rivals. According to The New York Times, "Their mission was to find people and information that could be used to undermine the Special Counsel's investigation, and also to damage former Vice President Joseph R. Biden." Both were allegedly also at the center of the pro-Trump forces' push to remove Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, because her loyalty to President Trump was deemed deficient as Trump pursued his agenda there. It is also alleged that the two pressed for support for allegations that former Ukrainian officials schemed to manipulate the 2016 election to support Hillary Clinton, by revealing adverse information about Paul Manafort, chairman of Trump's campaign, which became a central element in Mueller's special counsel investigation.
In the United States, while lodging at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., Parnas, Fruman and leading members of Congress pushed for the ambassador's removal because she had angered Ukrainian confederates in Kiev. Also, over the course of a year beginning in 2018, the two men allegedly introduced Giuliani to Ukrainians who were amenable to promoting "a largely unsubstantiated narrative about the Bidens." These included Yuriy Lutsenko, a former Prosecutor General of Ukraine, who was critical to Giuliani's efforts to produce damaging information. Viktor Shokin, also a former Prosecutor General of Ukraine, was part of this group.
The New York field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), along with SDNY prosecutors, are conducting a criminal investigation of Giuliani's relationship with Parnas and Fruman. Giuliani is under investigation for potentially violating lobbying laws. Parnas was initially being legally represented by John M. Dowd, who was Trump's personal attorney in the Mueller investigation in 2017-18, until he fired him and hired Joseph A. Bondy. Dowd initially represented Fruman as well.
On November 22nd, 2019, Parnas stated to CNN that he would be willing to testify to Congress regarding his, Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA), Giuliani's and Trump's role in the Ukraine affairs. Documents released to a watchdog group show communication took place between Giuliani and Pompeo shortly before Ambassador Yovanovich was removed from her post. Memos from Giuliani to Pompeo regarding a Jan. 23, 2019 meeting with Ukraine’s former prosecutor general Victor Shokin were included. Giuliani notes that Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas were present at the meeting. Shokin was ousted from his job in 2016 because of his lack of attention to corruption cases.
|Press conference with U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman and Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's New York office William Sweeney on the arrest of Parnas and Fruman, October 10, 2019, C-SPAN|
Parnas and Fruman were arrested on the evening of October 9, 2019, at Dulles International Airport, and charged with planning to direct funds from a foreign government "to U.S. politicians while trying to influence U.S.-Ukraine relations". It has been reported that they were arrested while trying to leave the United States. The reason for their arrest was described as a "complex web of financial and political interactions linking diplomacy to alleged violations of campaign finance law." The head of the New York's FBI office described the investigation as "about corrupt behavior, deliberate lawbreaking".
The charges have also allegedly connected Parnas and Fruman to the campaign to oust the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, from her post and have her recalled. This occurred over many months. In 2018, the operation included Parnas and Fruman donating funds and pledging further additional moneys to an unnamed Congressman, who was recruited for the "campaign to oust her." Some of the funds violated campaign limits. The funds were funneled through a shell company, Global Energy Producers. Parnas and Fruman were also charged with unlawful campaign contributions. Based on campaign finance filings, former congressional Representative Pete Sessions (R-Texas) has been identified as the unnamed Congressman. In 2018, as the Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Sessions wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying that Yovanovitch should be fired for privately expressing "disdain" for the Trump administration.
- Corruption in the United States
- Foreign interference in the 2020 United States elections
- List of federal political scandals in the United States
- Petro Poroshenko
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- Berman, Geoffrey S. "United States of America v. Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, David Correia, and Andrey Kukushkin" (PDF) (Sealed indictment). United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. p. 5. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 12, 2019. Retrieved October 12, 2019 – via The Wall Street Journal.
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- Shimron, Yonat (November 13, 2019). "Why are so many players in the impeachment trial Jewish?". Religion News Service.
In fact, Vindman, Parnas and Fruman were able to immigrate to the U.S. precisely because they are Jewish.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Trump–Ukraine scandal.|
- Weiyi Cai, K. K. Rebecca Lai, Alicia Parlapiano, Jugal K. Patel and Kenneth P. Vogel. "Trump's Efforts to Push Ukraine Toward a Biden Inquiry: A Timeline". The New York Times. Updated October 4, 2019. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
- Images of Parnav and Fruman. Google search. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
- Christal Hayes. "Lawmakers subpoena Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, hours after their arrests". USA Today. October 10, 2019. Retrieved October 12, 2019.