A business associate of Rudy Giuliani’s transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to American political candidates, federal prosecutors argued Wednesday, knowing what he was doing was “blatantly” illegal. Lev Parnas and a wealthy Russian businessman “shoveled thousands and thousands of dollars of foreign money to U.S. politicians,” according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Aline Flodr, “laughing about how they were breaking the law along the way.” Parnas, 49, is accused of funneling more than $100,000 in illegal donations from businessman Andrey Muraviev.
The funds were intended to curry favor and win loyalty, prosecutors said. Parnas and Muraviev were allegedly trying to secure the permits necessary to launch a multi-state legal marijuana business. Parnas’ defense attorney argued his client had been a guileless pawn of political fundraisers, saying that Parnas hadn’t intended to violate the law. “He doesn’t have a graduate degree. He’s not a lawyer… He hasn’t worked for a political campaign,” the attorney said. Parnas is also charged with lying about the source of a $325,000 donation to a pro-Trump super PAC in 2018. Giuliani, who has denied any wrongdoing in the case and distanced himself from his former pal, is not expected to testify.