WASHINGTON — Two Soviet-born businessmen at the center of President Trump’s Ukraine scandal were arrested on Wednesday and charged with breaking campaign finance laws by donating foreign money in an attempt to purchase political influence.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman have been taken into custody, Dawn Dearden, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, told VICE News by phone on Thursday.
The charges relate to a $325,000 donation made in May 2018 to a pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, which was funneled through a an LLC called Global Energy Producers. The two men were charged with conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records.
Parnas and Fruman have said they helped guide Giuliani’s attempts to connect with Ukrainian officials while the former New York mayor pressed to have Trump’s 2020 Democratic rival, Joe Biden, investigated.
House Democrats have sought testimony and documents from both men as part of the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s ties to Ukraine.
The two men are expected to appear in federal court in Virginia later on Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported, while saying the exact nature of the charges remains unclear.
Giuliani has identified the two men as “clients” on Twitter, but they more recently hired Trump’s former attorney John Dowd to represent them.
Developing story ...
Cover: Rudy Giuliani, Former Mayor of New York City speaks to the Organization of Iranian American Communities during their march to urge "recognition of the Iranian people's right for regime change," outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York on September 24, 2019. (Photo: ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
This article originally appeared on VICE US.