Trump donors charged in campaign finance case

President Trump"s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has coffee with Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in WashingtonImage copyright

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Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani seen with Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington

Two Trump donors have been charged with violations of campaign finance laws, New York prosecutors say.

Soviet-born businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman conspired to “funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office”, say the charges.

The pair have been associated with US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

They have been peddling unsubstantiated corruption claims against Democratic White House contender Joe Biden.

The two are expected to appear in federal court in Virginia on Thursday.

The Trump administration’s role in Ukraine are at the centre of an congressional impeachment inquiry.

Under US law, foreign nationals are prohibited from donating to elections to restrict foreign influence on the US government. Campaigns must also publicly report the sources and details of contributions made in federal elections.

Mr Parnas and Mr Fruman are accused of circumventing these laws through a money-laundering scheme.

They allegedly used an unnamed foreign national’s money to make political contributions in their own name, and lied to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Both men are US citizens. Mr Parnas was born in Ukraine, Mr Fruman in Belarus.

They were expected to appear on Thursday and Friday before Democratic-led congressional committees investigating Mr Trump.

Lawmakers had been ready to issue Mr Parnas and Mr Fruman with legal summonses to compel them to show up.

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