Odesa businessmen Ihor Fruman and Lev Parnas defended the interests of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko in the administration of the President of the United States Donald Trump. They are frequent guests at the Prosecutor General's Office in exchange for big business promises. This is stated in a rom-ua publication referencing a number of sources.
The journalists learned the names of those who are lobbying Ukrainian politicians’ interests in President Trump’s administration – they are Ihor Fruman and Lev Parnas. Back in January, the two organized a meeting between Ukraine’s Prosecutor General and Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudolf Giuliani. Then, at the beginning of this week, right before Yuriy Lutsenko’s press briefing (during which he confessed a great friendship with Giuliani), Fruman and Parnas boasted their close ties with the Prosecutor General’s Office in business circles. They said they were so close with Yuriy Lutsenko that they visited his house through a back door and used underground parking.
The same two American businessmen of Ukrainian origin, Fruman and Parnas, paid for the work of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer in Ukraine. Aside from Yuriy Lutsenko, the names of Rudolf Giuliani’s clients include Hennadiy Kernes, Pavlo Fuks and Vadim Rabinovich.
Political scientist Vadim Karasev does not hide the fact that his sources in the Prosecutor General’s Office unofficially confirmed that Rudolf Giuliani and Yuriy Lutsenko befriended two non-public but very cunning businessmen in the past two weeks. “They [Ihor Fruman and Lev Parnas] were regular guests in the Prosecutor General’s Office. It’s being rumored that they were establishing contact between Lutsenko and Giuliani and Trump’s administration in exchange for beneficial promises made by the Prosecutor General. They are also in close contact with a famous prosecutor Kulik,” he states in his Facebook post.
Notably, both Fruman and Parnas have already managed to appear in American politics, getting involved in a scandal with Trump campaign’s “secret donors”. Founded in April 2018 in Delaware, Global Energy Producers LLC received a huge amount of money in the summer of the same year, which allowed such a young company to transfer $320,000 to America First Action Inc.’s account. America First Action Inc. is a large structure fully supporting Trump’s political program. This contribution set a record for America First Action in 2018.
On July 25, however, the Washington-based non-profit called Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint to the Federal Election Commission. CLC’s lawyers accused the Global Energy Producers’ leadership and two other “Ukraine related” businessmen, Ihor Fruman and Lev Parnas, of breaking the law regulating the campaign finance process. Illegal financing is severely punished in the United States, and those charged with this crime have a hard time.
The filers of the complaint believe that Global Energy Producers and its founders simply could not earn such an impressive amount in a short period of time. According to federal legislation, donors of political committees only have the right to spend personal funds on contributions. CLC lawyers believe that Fruman and Parnas are the most likely sources of the aforementioned funds, with the money actually coming from Ukrainian politicians.
As Global Energy Producers was established as a limited liability company in Delaware, the company has the right not to disclose the information about its directors and owners.
"People realized that the LLC format is an ideal mechanism for transferring money to electoral funds without the need to disclose information about donors and without having to carry any responsibility for their actions. The owners of such LLCs can easily receive funds from foreigners, and foreigners are expressly forbidden to conduct political activities in the United States,” as noted by the US Federal Election Commission.
It is noteworthy that among Ihor Fruman and Lev Parnas’ high-ranking Ukrainian clients is the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko. Actually, the two provide a political cover for Lutsenko in Donald Trump’s administration. It is possible that the sponsor of Trump’s toxic investments was Yuriy Lutsenko, whose positions have drastically weakened after Volodymyr Zelensky’s election as president. The latter clearly stated that Lutsenko is not a good fit for the Attorney General position and would have to resign.
Who are Fruman and Parnas?
According to Bloomberg, Ihor Fruman is a Ukrainian-American businessman specializing in foreign trade. He is associated with Ukraine through the charitable organization "American Friends of Anativka". Anativka is a settlement for Jewish refugees from the Eastern Ukraine, built near Kyiv on the initiative of the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine Moshe-Reuven Asman.
Those from Odesa believe Fruman has drug and sex business ties. He also plays a special role as an intermediary in Trump's communication with the Jewish community of Kyiv. Fruman himself does not hide the fact that he was one of the sponsors of Donald Trump’s election campaign. That’s what he said in an interview with the Forumdaily.
In Ukraine, Ihor Fruman is known in Odesa as Valery Naumov's son-in-law. Naumov was the director of the "Fruits and vegetables" store on Deribasovskaya St. in Soviet times (now there is Libkin’s restaurant "Steakhouse"), and today his company has a similar name. Fruman’s wife, Elizaveta, owns 400 sq.m. in a house number 9 on Deribasovskaya St.
She is a co-owner of the OtradaLuxury Group’s jewelry house together with her husband. Both are the owners of the Odesa boutique hotel “Otrada” and the beach establishment “Otrada Beach Club”. In Kyiv, they own a scandalous restaurant Buddha-Bar. Fruman and his partner Sergii Dyablo also own the Baltsky milk canning plant.
Lev Parnas is a founder and president of the Fraud Guarantee. In the early 1990s, he was engaged in container freight between the US and the former Soviet republics, and then he founded a brokerage company with a several hundred people staff. According to Parnas, he managed to "bring to IPO more than 1000 companies." This is an interesting statistic of the public capital market from a non-public person with a dubious reputation.
According to Bloomberg, Mr. Parnas is not as successful as he says. “In early 2018, judging by lawsuits, Parnas had an eviction notice from his home in Florida. He worked in five brokerage companies, all of which got closed by regulators after it became clear that they were deceiving customers and violating the industry’s rules. You will not find this information at Fraud Guarantee’s website,” Bloomberg summarized.
Another media, The Daily Beast, notes that in 2015 "the federal court ordered Mr. Parnas to return more than $500,000 to a friend who lent him this amount 4 years prior to invest in shooting a movie. Parnas lured the investor into this project, organizing a meeting of the potential “investor” with the film’s producer and actor Jack Nicholson at the Carlyle Hotel in New York. Parnas never returned the money, according to Florida court’s decisions, and the investor is still trying to obtain justice in court. At the same time, Parnas’ landlord has filed a lawsuit against him: he is seeking eviction, as Parnas owns him more than $11,000 in rent."
Fruman’s brother, Steven, also has links to Global Energy: his house’s address is listed as the address of a donor who contributed $50,000 to the Friends of Ron DeSantis electoral fund, owned by one of the Republican congressmen running to be the governor of Florida.
Steven Fruman, as Bloomberg states, "worked in several companies that acted as defendants in civil lawsuits, satisfied by courts, in which these companies were accused of money laundering. At the same time, Steven Fruman was not listed among the immediate defendants."
According to The Daily Beast, "despite outstanding debts, these people, apparently, are actively involved in the financial scheme to inject huge funds into political campaigns."
Parnas has repeatedly had difficulties with US lawmakers, and he is under the scrutiny of the US authorities. “Question to the Prosecutor General’s Office: why do Ukrainian businessmen suddenly support Trump? Question to the audience: how can such figures help at such a high level? What was promised to them?” Vadim Karasev wonders.
Although, why would one be surprised if a private person, Donald Trump's lawyer Rudolf Giuliani, influences Ukrainian politics without any special efforts? Moreover, the Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, the main lawyer in the country, pays Giuliani for lobbyism and cover in the USA.