WASHINGTON - Two associates of President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani have been arrested on federal charges of making illegal contributions to U.S. political campaigns.
Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born U.S. citizen, and Igor Fruman, a Belarus-born U.S. citizen, were detained late Wednesday in Virginia, a law enforcement official said.
The two men are expected to make their first court appearance in Alexandria, Virginia, Thursday afternoon, the official said.
Parnas and Fruman reportedly helped Giuliani investigate corruption allegations against former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. House investigators conducting an impeachment inquiry of Trump were scheduled to talk to Parnas on Thursday and Fruman on Friday.
Two other defendants - Ukrainian-born Andrey Kukushkin and American-born David Correia - also are named in the indictment in connection with the scheme to make illegal campaign contributions.
Kukushkin has been arrested and will appear in federal court in San Francisco later Thursday, the official said. Correia remains at large.
The four defendants are accused of "engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office" in order to buy influence with them.
To hide the source of their illegal contributions, they created limited liability partnerships and used so-called "straw donors," according to the 21-page indictment.
Parnas and Fruman "sought to advance their personal financial interests and the political interests of at least one Ukrainian government official with whom they were working," according to the indictment. The Ukrainian official is not identified.
In 2018, Parnas and Fruman allegedly made a contribution of $325,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC through Global Energy Producers (GEP), a purported liquefied natural gas company created for the purpose of funneling the funds. The contribution triggered a complaint with the Federal Election Commission. Parnas and Fruman made another contribution of $15,000 to a second political committee, claiming the gas company as its source.
"Despite the fact that the FEC forms for these contributions required Parnas and Fruman to disclose the true donor of the funds, they falsely reported that the contributions came from GEP," according to the indictment.
Instead, according to the indictment, the funds came from "a private lending transaction" between Fruman and third parties.
Parnas and Fruman also allegedly pledged to raise $20,000 for an unnamed member of Congress who had received as much as $3 million from the pro-Trump super PAC, according to the indictment.
Around the time he made the pledge, Parnas allegedly met with the congressman to enlist his help in getting the Trump Administration to recall Marie Yovanovitch, then the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. The effort allegedly came at the request of one or more Ukrainian officials, according to the indictment.
Trump recalled Yovanovitch on May 20. During a July 25 call to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Trump described her as "bad news." In addition, Zelenskiy was critical of Yovanovitch, complaining during the call that she "would not accept me as a new president well enough."
Yovanovitch is scheduled to give a deposition Friday to House impeachment investigators.