By Brendan Pierson
NEW YORK (Reuters) – An associate of U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Monday urged a judge to let him stay free on bail while he awaits trial, denying prosecutors’ accusations that he lied about receiving a $1 million payment from Russia shortly before he was arrested.
A lawyer for Lev Parnas, who is charged with campaign finance crimes, said the payment was a loan to Parnas’ wife, and that it had been disclosed to authorities before his bail was set.
“At no time did Mr. Parnas make a knowingly false statement,” Parnas’ lawyer, Joseph Bondy, said in a filing in Manhattan federal court.
Parnas, a U.S. citizen who was born in Ukraine, was released on bail after his arrest in October and has been living under house arrest in Florida.
Parnas was charged alongside another Florida businessman, Belarus-born Igor Fruman, with illegally funneling money to a pro-Trump election committee and other politicians. Both men have pleaded not guilty.
Last week, prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken to jail Parnas. They said he had concealed information about his finances, including a $1 million payment he had received from an account in Russia in September.
The account was in the name of his wife, Svetlana Parnas. Prosecutors said that was an effort to shield his assets.
The prosecutors said Parnas posed an “extreme” risk of fleeing the country, adding that he had “considerable ties abroad and access to seemingly limitless sources of foreign funding.”
In Monday’s court filing, Bondy said that two months of Svetlana Parnas’ banking records, including the $1 million payment, had been disclosed to the government.
Bondy denied that Parnas posed a risk of fleeing, adding that Parnas was cooperating with the Congressional impeachment proceeding against Trump and intended to continue doing so.
“Mr. Parnas has strong incentives to remain with his family, to continue to be cooperative with Congress, and to be actively involved in the defense of (this) case,” Bondy said.
Prosecutors are also investigating payments made to Giuliani, who has not been charged with a crime and has denied any wrongdoing.
Giuliani has emerged as a key figure in congressional impeachment proceedings, in which Democrats have accused the Republican president of abusing his power to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter. Trump has called the impeachment a witch hunt.
Giuliani has said Parnas and Fruman worked with him in Ukraine when he was investigating the Bidens.
(Reporting by Brendan Pierson, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)