Lev Parnas, who aided Giuliani in Ukraine, pleads guilty over insurance start-up

Lev Parnas, Ukrainian-American businessman and former Giuliani associate, arrives at the United States Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., October 19, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

NEW YORK, March 25 (Reuters) - Lev Parnas, a Ukraine-born businessman convicted in October on campaign finance charges, pleaded guilty on Friday to an additional conspiracy count over his work at a fraud insurance company that Rudy Giuliani, his former ally, also worked for.

Parnas, 50, entered his plea to the wire fraud conspiracy charge at a remote hearing before U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken in Manhattan. His sentencing was scheduled for June 29.

U.S. prosecutors had accused Parnas and co-defendant David Correia of conning people into investing more than $2 million in their Florida start-up Fraud Guarantee, but withdrawing much of the money for political donations and other personal expenses.

Giuliani has said he was paid $500,000 to work for Fraud Guarantee. The former New York City mayor and onetime lawyer for Republican former President Donald Trump has denied wrongdoing and has not been criminally charged.

Prior to breaking with Giuliani, Parnas had also traveled to Ukraine on Giuliani's behalf to seek damaging information about Democrat Joe Biden, then a prospective presidential candidate, and his son Hunter.

Parnas told Oetken that he agreed with another person to provide materially false statements to investors regarding Fraud Guarantee, and used wire transfers when raising money for the start-up.

"I am extremely sorry for my actions, your honor," Parnas said.

Parnas was convicted on Oct. 22 after being accused of using money tied to Russian businessman Andrey Muraviev to gain the support of candidates in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, with a hope of building a legal cannabis business. read more

Co-defendant Andrey Kukushkin, a Ukraine-born businessman convicted on some of the same charges, was sentenced on March 15 to one year and one day in prison. read more

Correia received the same sentence in February 2021 after also pleading guilty to wire fraud conspiracy related to Fraud Guarantee. read more

Igor Fruman, Parnas' Belarus-born former business partner, in January also received that sentence after pleading guilty to a campaign finance violation. read more

Parnas' eventual sentence would cover his conviction and guilty plea.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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