Legal

A New York jury hears closing arguments in the case charging Florida businessman Lev Parnas with injecting a Russian’s money into U.S. campaigns.

Lev Parnas exits the federal court after a hearing in New York City. | Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

By JOSH GERSTEIN

10/21/2021 03:20 PM EDT

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Prosecutors asked a federal jury on Thursday to convict a business associate of President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani of funneling more than $150,000 from a Russian businessman into American political campaigns, in a bid to score lucrative licenses in the United States’ booming legal cannabis industry.

However, a lawyer for the defendant, Florida businessman Lev Parnas, said that the donations were legitimate and that there was a lack of evidence the donations were directed from abroad or given on behalf of others — actions that violate U.S. campaign finance laws.

Prosecutors alleged that Parnas and a business partner who already pleaded guilty in the case, Igor Fruman, convinced a Russian businessman, Andrey Muraviev, that the U.S. political system was a turnstile-like, pay-to-play operation where cannabis-industry licenses could be obtained by making big donations to American politicians.

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