Prosecutors noted that Parnas — a U.S. citizen who worked with Giuliani as he pursued investigations of interest to President Trump in Ukraine — had traveled abroad more than 20 times in the past four years and had spent more than $70,000 on private air travel in September 2019 alone. They said he was connected “to Russian and Ukrainian nationals of nearly limitless means” and had proven skillful at generating foreign funding. In the past three years, they said, Parnas had received more than $1.5 million from Ukrainian and Russian sources.
“In sum, given Parnas’s significant, high-level connections to powerful and wealthy Ukrainians and at least one Russian national, he could quickly and easily flee the United States for Ukraine or another foreign country, and recoup the security posted to his bond,” prosecutors wrote. “It is difficult to overstate the extreme flight risk that Parnas poses.”
Joseph A. Bondy, one of Parnas’s attorneys, said they were reviewing the government’s letter, and would be filing a written response with the court over the next several days.
Parnas had previously been free on a $1 million personal recognizance bond secured by $200,000 in cash, but he was on home detention with GPS monitoring.
Parnas and another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, were arrested as they tried to board an airplane at Washington Dulles International Airport in September. Prosecutors in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York alleged in an indictment that the pair schemed to funnel foreign money to U.S. politicians while trying to influence U.S.-Ukraine relations — a violation of campaign finance laws.
The two had been helping Giuliani with his effort to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate and a key focus of the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats. Giuliani, a former New York mayor and Trump’s personal attorney, was not mentioned in the indictment, but people familiar with the case said he, too, is being investigated.
Parnas’s lawyers have said he is eager to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, tweeting directly at members of Congress using the hashtag #LetLevSpeak, provided Parnas is given immunity. Congress is generally wary of extending immunity to people under criminal indictment to avoid making their prosecutions more difficult.
Parnas has pleaded not guilty. As a part of the normal court process, he was required to disclose his assets to the government, but he did not do so completely and accurately, prosecutors alleged.
Among the inaccurate information Parnas provided had to do with income he was receiving for working as an interpreter for a law firm, prosecutors alleged. He told a probation officer on Oct. 15 that he earned $50,000 annually from the law firm, but he did not disclose any income from the law firm in a signed affidavit that he submitted later that month. Prosecutors alleged that, in fact, Parnas earned $200,000 from the law firm between August and October, money that was held under the name of his wife, Svetlana.
Parnas’s lawyers have said that he was hired to work as an interpreter for conservative lawyers Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova, when they were hired to represent Ukrainian gas tycoon Dmytro Firtash in July.
The couple had worked closely with Giuliani in his reported efforts to dig up dirt on Democrats in Ukraine. Firtash was indicted in Chicago in 2014 and charged in a bribery conspiracy. He has been fighting extradition from Austria. Toensing and diGenova met with U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr in August to advocate on Firtash’s behalf, as first reported by The Washington Post. Barr declined to intercede in the case. Toensing and diGenova declined to comment for this report.
Prosecutors appeared to reference Firtash in their request to have Parnas jailed, noting that Parnas’s foreign ties included “a Ukrainian oligarch living in Vienna who is currently fighting extradition to this country.”
Prosecutors alleged Parnas also misled a pretrial services officer as he recently sought to have his conditions of release modified so he could leave his home daily during certain hours, implying the court had already ruled favorably on his request when it had not. They asserted Parnas was “aware that he is under investigation for additional crimes, and that it is likely that he will be charged with additional offenses” — which might give him incentive to flee.
Tom Hamburger contributed to this report.