Law360 reported that federal prosecutors on Monday unsealed the indictment against a Russian tycoon accused of making illegal political contributions in support of a cannabis venture, claiming that he made the donations in the names of straw donors. According to the Justice Department, the group hoped that the donations to certain candidates would help Muraviev and his business partners win the coveted cannabis and marijuana licenses.
The scheme dates back to the spring of 2018 when Lev Parnas and Andrey Kukushkin decided to get into the cannabis industry. The two along with Andrey Muraviev and Igor Fruman were working together to grease the political wheels. Muraviev, who is a foreign national Russian citizen, was charged in New York federal court “with conspiring to make contributions and donations as a foreign national and in the name of another person, as well as actually making those contributions and donations.” Muraviev is thought to be somewhere in Russia at this time.
Law360 reported that U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger ordered the unsealing of the superseding indictment Monday. The original court documents were filed under seal in September 2020.
The indictment says that Parnas faked an energy company as a front and that the campaign contributions actually came from Fruman. The company was called Global Energy Producers (GEP), but it had no income or revenue and yet it made a $325,000 contribution to one political committee and $15,000 to another.
Fruman, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison in January for soliciting $1 million from Muraviev to make the illicit political contributions.
In October, Parnas and Kukushkin were convicted. Parnas was also convicted on charges related to making a wrongful $325,000 contribution to the Trump-allied super PAC America First Action, which was the subject of a Federal Election Commission complaint.
According to Law360, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement Monday that Muraviev “attempted to influence the 2018 elections by conspiring to push a million dollars of his foreign funds to candidates and campaigns. He attempted to corrupt our political system to advance his business interests.”
In addition to spending money on political contributions, the group also used the money to pay off credit cards and lease luxury vehicles.