Russian Oligarch Who Invested In US Politics, Marijuana Industry Is Indicted – Forbes

A Russian “oligarch” who invested more than $1 million in the U.S. cannabis industry—and funneled some of that cash through associates of Rudy Giuliani, who in turn made illegal political donations meant to curry favor with lawmakers and regulators in order to win coveted marijuana business licenses—was charged for his role in the scheme, authorities revealed on Monday.

Andrey Muraviev, sometimes spelled Muravyov, loomed in the background throughout the saga of Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, and David Correia, would-be political operators who frequented events and fundraisers for former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Parnas featured prominently in Trump’s first impeachment trial, asserting that Giuliani and Trump were aware that the men were attempting to assist Trump’s 2020 re-election bid. Trump was acquitted by the U.S. Senate.

Since their October 2019 indictments, Parnas, Fruman, and Correia have all either been convicted or pleaded guilty to federal charges.

A fourth man, Andrey Kukushkin, was found guilty along with Parnas in October 2021 of illegally funneling Muraviev’s money into U.S. elections to support Republican candidates in Nevada, Texas, and Florida.

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Muraviev, identified through much of the proceedings for the other men only as “Foreign National 1,” was charged with making political donations as a foreign national and through a straw donor. If convicted of both charges, he could be sentenced to a maximum of ten years in prison, according to the indictment.

Muraviev “attempted to influence the 2018 elections by conspiring to push a million dollars of his foreign funds to candidates and campaigns,” as United States Attorney Damien Williams, the head prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, said in a statement Monday. “He attempted to corrupt our political system to advance his business interests.”

Though Muraviev, 47, visited the United States during the scheme, according to the indictment, he is believed to currently be in Russia. The United States and Russia do not have an extradition treaty.

According to the indictment, beginning in July 2018, all five of the men tried to set up a cannabis business. All five traveled to a fundraising event in Las Vegas for a political candidate in September 2018—and Muraviev later agreed to “provide $1 million for our future enterprise,” which intended to acquire cannabis business licenses in California, New York, and New Jersey.

Muraviev wired the money into business accounts run by Fruman, who then made the contributions in the name of his U.S.-based companies, according to the indictment. Aside from Muraviev, all of the conspirators are also U.S. citizens.

Though Parnas and Fruman used some of Muraviev’s money to pay off their own credit card bills, some of it did enter U.S. politics, including a $325,000 contribution to a Trump-supporting political action committee, and another $50,000 contribution to the successful campaign of current Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, considered a possible Republican presidential candidate.

Despite the political contributions, the men failed to win a single cannabis business permit in Florida and Nevada. According to the indictment, they either “failed to timely apply” for cannabis permits, or “were otherwise unsuccessful.”

But at least some of Muraviev’s money entered American marijuana.

Muraviev also invested $1 million through Kukushkin into a San Francisco cannabis dispensary, according to documents filed in a separate case still pending in San Francisco Superior Court.

That investment failed, prompting Kukushkin to sue to recover the lost cash.

A tycoon who made his money in cement and re-invested that fortune in technology in the United States, Muraviev is one of “several super-rich Russians drawn to the U.S. cannabis industry,” as Radio Free Europe put it.

He is believed to reside in Moscow.



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