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Russian oligarch indicted in campaign finance plot to win cannabis license in Nevada

Humberto Sanchez
Humberto Sanchez
Campaign FinanceElectionsGovernment
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A photo of Igor Fruman, Adam Laxalt and Lev Parnas

Russian businessman Andrey Muraviev was charged Monday with violating federal campaign finance laws in 2018, including illegally funneling donations to then-Republican gubernatorial hopeful Adam Laxalt, as part of an effort to win a recreational marijuana business license in Nevada.

“Andrey Muraviev, a Russian national, attempted to influence the 2018 elections by conspiring to push a million dollars of his foreign funds to candidates and campaigns,” Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a press release. “He attempted to corrupt our political system to advance his business interests.”

Muraviev is believed to be in Russia and remains at large, prosecutors said.

According to the unsealed indictment, Muraviev allegedly conspired with Florida-based businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were associates of Donald Trump’s private lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. 

Parnas was found guilty in October of the six counts of campaign-finance charges. Laxalt testified at Parnas' trial. He said Parnas appeared eager to provide funds and promised to hold a fundraiser that ultimately never transpired. 

Fruman pleaded guilty to soliciting foreign campaign contributions in September 2021.

Other people named in the charging document include Ukrainian-born businessman Andrey Kukushkin and American businessman David Correia. Kukushkin was convicted of two counts of campaign finance law violations. In February, Correia was sentenced to a year in prison for fraud in a different case.

The five are said to have hatched a plot to use $1 million provided by Muraviev to give to U.S. political campaigns to curry favor with candidates who might be able to help Muraviev and his co-conspirators obtain cannabis licenses. Nevada legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2016.

Prosecutors contend Muraviev violated the law prohibiting foreign nationals from donating to federal, state or local elections. Prosecutors also said Muraviev, with the aid of the others, sought to hide the source of the donations, also violating campaign finance laws.

The funds went to political campaigns in Nevada, Florida and Texas. Donation promises were also made to campaigns in New York and New Jersey. In September 2018, Muraviev traveled to Las Vegas with the group as part of their plan but did not attend any political events, the indictment said.

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