NEW YORK (Reuters) – Two foreign-born Florida businessmen who helped President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani investigate political rival Joe Biden pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to illegally funneling money to a pro-Trump election committee and other politicians.
Ukraine-born Lev Parnas and Belarus-born Igor Fruman entered their not guilty pleas to federal campaign finance charges before U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken in Manhattan.
Federal prosecutors have accused Parnas and Fruman of using a shell company to donate $325,000 to the pro-Trump committee, America First Action, and raising money for former Texas Congressman Pete Sessions as part of an effort to have the Republican president remove the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Parnas and Fruman’s arrest at a Washington-area airport earlier this month was yet another political hazard for Trump amid a fast-moving impeachment inquiry by the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives.
Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Alistair Bell