Russian oligarch charged with illegal donations in US campaign finance scheme

The Department of Justice has charged a Russian oligarch with making illegal political contributions as a foreign national and with conspiring with associates of Rudy Giuliani.

According to U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, Andrey Muraviev allegedly sought to push millions of dollars to candidates and campaigns in an attempt to "corrupt our political system to advance his business interests."

Muraviev, 47, is alleged to have conspired with Lev Parnas, Andrey Kukushkin and Igor Fruman to use his funds as campaign contributions in 2018. All three of these men have either been convicted at trial or pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws.

Muraviev is believed to currently be in Russia and remains at large.

In the spring of 2018, all four individuals decided to start a business acquiring retail cannabis and marijuana licenses, according to the Justice Department. As a part of the business endeavor, Muraviev allegedly agreed to wire $1 million to Fruman and Parnas in order to fulfill campaign donation promises they had made.

According to the department, these donations were allegedly made in the hopes of gaining favor with candidates who could help them acquire cannabis and marijuana licenses. The origin of the donation was concealed by sending the money through bank accounts belonging to Fruman's brother, with the gifts issued in Fruman's and Parnas's names.

Last week it was announced that Parnas, who was convicted of violating campaign finance laws in October, would be changing his plea from not guilty to guilty.

"​​Mr. Parnas believes the time is right for him now to accept responsibility," his lawyer Joseph Bondy said.