By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK – Testimony concluded on Wednesday in the campaign finance trial of a former associate of Rudy Giuliani, a case that has provided a glimpse into the inner workings of political fundraising in the United States.
Prosecutors say Lev Parnas used money from a foreign national to donate to U.S. candidates and sought to conceal his identity for other contributions in the 2018 election cycle.
The Ukraine-born Parnas has pleaded not guilty.
A co-defendant on two of the counts, Andrey Kukushkin, has also pleaded not guilty.
Closing arguments are expected in Manhattan federal court on Thursday.
The case has drawn attention because of the role Parnas and a former business partner, Igor Fruman, played in helping Giuliani, Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, investigate Joe Biden’s activities in Ukraine ahead of the 2020 election. Biden, a Democrat, defeated Republican Trump’s bid for re-election.
Prosecutors say Fruman and Parnas used funds from Russian businessman Andrey Muraviev to donate to candidates in states where the group sought licenses to operate cannabis businesses. Fruman pleaded guilty in September to one criminal count of soliciting campaign contributions from a foreign national.
Over six days of testimony, prosecutors called as witnesses two politicians who solicited donations from Parnas, only to reject them due to doubts about the funds’ origins. Parnas’ defense has argued Muraviev’s funds were used for business investments, not campaign contributions.
Giuliani’s attorney has said the Parnas trial is separate from a federal probe into whether the former New York City mayor violated lobbying laws while representing Trump. Giuliani has not been charged with any crimes and denies wrongdoing.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Matthew Lewis)