EXCLUSIVE: Indicted Giuliani Pals Were Expected In Kyiv When Arrested

Lev Parnas (L) and Igor Fruman (R). (TPM Illustration/Getty Images)
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November 8, 2019 12:21 p.m.
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Rudy Giuliani’s indicted pals were scheduled to be in Kyiv last month when they were arrested at Washington-Dulles International Airport, TPM has confirmed with their Ukraine lawyer.

It was previously known that Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman had one-way tickets to Vienna via Frankfurt when they were arrested by the FBI on Oct. 9 on campaign finance charges. It has not been reported before now that they were scheduled to subsequently be in Kyiv. Vienna, a common connecting city for air travelers from the United States to Kyiv, has five flights a day to the Ukrainian capital.

Alina Samarets, a Kyiv attorney representing Parnas and Fruman in a dispute with a Ukrainian oligarch, told TPM that the pair had planned on traveling to Kyiv for an Oct. 13 meeting with Ukrainian investigators.

“They were planning on going before they were arrested,” she said in a phone call from Kyiv, adding that she had not been in touch with them since their arrests.

“They told me that they were trying to come,” Samarets added. “When I read in the news that they were arrested trying to leave, I thought that they were coming here.”

The trip came after the news had already broken of the Giuliani-led campaign to pressure the Ukrainian government into manufacturing political dirt helpful to President Trump. The House had opened an impeachment inquiry into the matter weeks earlier.

A federal grand jury in Manhattan indicted the pair — along with two other associates — on campaign finance charges, accusing them of conspiring to evade federal contribution limits and of funneling money into GOP congressional campaigns across the country.

Parnas and Fruman have each pleaded not guilty, and deny any allegations of wrongdoing. Prosecutors have said in federal court that the investigation is “ongoing” and has already gathered a “voluminous” array of evidence.

Todd Blanche, a New York City attorney for Fruman, declined to comment. Joseph Bondy, a New York City attorney for Parnas, did not return repeated requests for comment.

Prosecutors are reportedly examining Giuliani’s financial dealings as part of the investigation as well, and issued a subpoena to former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) over his interactions with the former New York City mayor.

Before the arrests, TPM was told by a Ukrainian politician that Giuliani was planning a trip to Ukraine on Oct. 10.

Boryslav Rozenblat, a former Ukrainian member of Parliament who lost his seat in the country’s July elections, disclosed Giuliani’s purported plans to TPM in September. On Thursday, Rozenblat told TPM that he had expected Parnas and Fruman to be in Ukraine the week of Oct. 10 as well.

Rozenblat has played a key role in spreading information alleging that his country interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections, while fighting off extensive corruption accusations. The allegation of interference has been repeated by Giuliani and President Trump. Rozenblat also leaked a surreptitious recording of an anti-corruption prosecutor supposedly saying that he helped Hillary Clinton in 2016, and filed a since-overturned lawsuit alleging that financial records showing Paul Manafort’s name next to $12.7 million in bribe payments were fabricated.

The Atlantic reported in October that Giuliani was planning on flying to Vienna around one day after Parnas and Fruman’s scheduled flight. After learning of Parnas and Fruman’s arrest in a jetway at Dulles, Giuliani told the magazine that he could no longer comment.

Robert Costello, an attorney for Giuliani, told TPM that Giuliani had no plans to be in Kyiv “as he was planning to enjoy the World Series.” Costello added that “the trip to Vienna was tentative and never booked but if he went it was his only destination.”

Parnas and Fruman were due to be in Kyiv, according to Samarets, to sit down with Ukrainian investigators in a case arising out of their colorful dispute with oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky.

That dispute appears to stem from a late April meeting in Israel between Parnas, Fruman, and Kolomoisky.

Bruce Marks, an attorney representing Kolomoisky in civil matters in the U.S., told TPM that the pair had asked the oligarch to pay them in exchange for access to top U.S. officials.

“Long story short, he threw them out,” Marks said.

Kolomoisky himself spoke about the incident in a May 16 barside interview with a Ukrainian journalist, calling the pair “fraudsters” while saying that they were under investigation in the U.S.

Within days, Parnas and Fruman sued Kolomoisky, accusing him of threatening to have them killed. Parnas and Fruman demanded 200 million Hryvnia ($8.1 million) in damages as part of the lawsuit.

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Kolomoisky said in August that the conflict was over, and that he planned on resolving it via an out-of-court settlement.

“It will be resolved by a peaceful settlement,” Kolomoisky told a Ukrainian news outlet.

But Samarets told TPM that the case was still in Ukrainian court, with investigators wanting to question Parnas and Fruman as the alleged victims in the matter.

“They were called to court, it was on the calendar,” Samarets said, adding that a summons had been issued for Parnas and Fruman’s appearance.

She said that she had not heard from either Parnas or Fruman since they were arrested. Samarets went on to say that she had told investigators that she had lost contact with her clients, and had read about their arrest online.

“Our contract is still in place,” she added.

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