Two businessmen tied to US President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have been arrested over alleged election campaign finance violations.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested on a four-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records.

The pair were central to Mr Giuliani's efforts to get government officials in Ukraine to investigate business dealings by former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter in the country.


The pair used wire transfers from a corporate entity they controlled to make a 325,000 US dollars (£160,000) donation to the America First Action committee, which supports Mr Trump's re-election, in 2018.

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But it is claimed wire transfer records that became public through legal action show the corporate entity reported as making the transaction was not the true source of the money.

The men, who were arrested at Dulles International Airport, are expected to appear later on Thursday in federal court in Virginia. Two other men are also charged in the case.The indictment says Parnas and Fruman "sought to advance their personal financial interests and the political interests of at least one Ukrainian government official with whom they were working" and took steps to conceal it from third parties, including creditors.


Mr Parnas

It said they created a limited liability corporation, Global Energy Producers, and "intentionally caused certain large contributions to be reported in the name of GEP instead of in their own names".

Prosecutors allege the two men falsely claimed the contributions came from a liquefied natural gas business. At that point, the company had no income or significant assets, according to the indictment.

The America First Action committee donation in May 2018 was part of a flurry of political spending tied to Parnas and Fruman, with at least 478,000 US dollars (£383,000) in donations flowing to Republican campaigns and groups in little more than two months.

The money enabled the relatively unknown entrepreneurs to quickly gain access to the highest levels of the party, including face-to-face meetings with Mr Trump at the White House and Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

The Associated Press reported last week that Parnas and Fruman helped arrange a January meeting in New York between Ukraine's former top prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, and Mr Giuliani, as well as other meetings with top government officials.