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PAY DIRT

Five Cellphones, Trump Straws, a Lot of Cash—What This Giuliani Crony Was Carrying When the FBI Arrested Him

Lev Parnas also had the business card of a top Ukrainian anti-corruption prosecutor with whom Giuliani met this year.

Lachlan Markay, Betsy Swan11.14.19 11:30 AM ET

When Rudy Giuliani crony Lev Parnas was arrested last month, federal agents combed through his personal effects and found the business card of a Ukrainian prosecutor who, months earlier, met with Giuliani to discuss the conspiracy theories at the heart of the Trump impeachment inquiry.

Anti-corruption prosecutor Nazar Kholodnytsky’s card was among the 66 personal items that the FBI reported seizing from Parnas after his arrest at Washington’s Dulles International Airport last month, according to an itemized list of the effects obtained by PAY DIRT. It’s not clear when or how Parnas obtained that card, but his arrest came months after Giuliani met Kholodnytsky in Paris for a discussion that touched on Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and supposed Ukrainian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Kholodnytsky was caught on tape earlier this year apparently suborning false testimony and tipping off prosecution targets to impending raids. He claims the recordings were taken out of context. But Marie Yovanovitch, until this year the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, called for Kholodnytsky’s removal. Instead, Yovanovitch was recalled after a sustained lobbying campaign by Giuliani, Parnas, and his political and business associate Igor Fruman.

Kholodnytsky wasn’t the only Ukrainian official whose business card ended up in Parnas’ possession. The FBI also reported finding the card of Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky who met with Giuliani this year as President Donald Trump’s personal attorney ran a campaign of shadow diplomacy that has landed Trump on the brink of being impeached.

When Parnas was arrested, he was preparing to board a flight to Vienna via Frankfurt, and had packed for an international trip. The large list of items in his possession—which also included cash in three different currencies, five cellphones, eight credit and debit cards, and a host of Trump-branded memorabilia—provides some new insights on the people with whom Parnas was in contact, the business and charitable endeavors with which he was involved, and the degree to which Parnas was attempting to associate himself with the president’s image.

His attorney did not respond to a request for comment on the FBI’s list of his possessions.

Parnas’ Business Cards

In addition to others’ business cards, Parnas was carrying 20 of his own, sporting his roles with two different entities. He had six cards identifying him as the chief operating officer of American Friends of Anatevka, a New York-based charity run by Igor Fruman, Parnas’ political and business associate and another of Giuliani’s amateur Ukraine investigators.

Fourteen other cards in Parnas’ possession listed him as the founder and chief executive of Global Energy Producers LLC. That’s the company at the heart of the criminal charges to which he’s pleaded not guilty. According to the Justice Department, Parnas and Fruman used the company as a shell through which to illegally route hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions. The company, prosecutors say, served to hide their identities from the public, U.S. election regulators, and the many creditors that Parnas has dodged over the years, including a former business partner who’s still trying to collect a $510,000 legal judgment from six years ago.

Last week, PAY DIRT recapped some documents that emerged in that lawsuit showing that the GEP contribution to America First Action, the pro-Trump super PAC, actually came from an entirely different Parnas-run company called Aaron Investments I LLC. And it just so happens that another item on Parnas’ person when he was arrested was a blank check for that company’s account.

Mystery Man

The FBI reported seizing business cards for two other individuals. One belonged to New Yorker reporter Adam Entous, who interviewed Parnas in New York for a profile of the Giuliani associate shortly before his arrest. The other belonged to someone named Mohammed Cherkaoui. That’s the name of a George Mason University professor of conflict resolution who specializes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Cherkaoui did not respond to questions about whether that was, in fact, his business card.

Cash Money

PAY DIRT readers will be familiar with Parnas’ longstanding financial and debt issues. There’s the half-million dollars he still owes the former business associate; and in 2014, he and his family were evicted from their South Florida home over thousands of dollars in unpaid rent. Creditors are even going after the $200,000 that Parnas’ wife Svetlana put up as bail bond collateral to get him out of jail while he awaits trial.

Those financial woes were not evident in the items that the FBI found on his person. He had two Rolex watches, one gold and one stainless steel, and a “white gold horseshoe necklace with diamonds,” among other items of jewelry. In a white envelope, he carried 50 $100 bills. In multiple wallets, he had an additional $1,000 or so in various denominations of dollars, euros, and British pounds.

Those wallets also contained rewards cards from six different casinos, the types of cards that frequent gamblers use to rack up comps at the gambling sites they frequent. Parnas’ affinity for the tables was even evident in the pill case he used to carry medication: According to the feds, it was a mock poker chip.

In his wallets, the FBI also found no fewer than eight credit or debit cards, and well as an American Express gift card.

Trump Style

Parnas clearly has an affinity for Trump-branded tchotchkes. According to the FBI, he was traveling with numerous items emblazoned with the presidential seal, including cufflinks, a lapel pin, an iPhone case, and a yarmulke.

Hours before his arrest, Parnas, Fruman, and Giuliani had been dining at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, and it appears Parnas picked up a pen from the hotel while he was there. When he was arrested, he was also carrying an unspecified number of the plastic straws that the Trump campaign has been selling for a few months.

Staying Connected

The Trump-branded iPhone case carried just one of the five cellphones that the FBI found in Parnas’ possession. Two others were also iPhones, and the feds reported seizing a Samsung and a NOUS as well. Parnas also had an iPad with him.

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