On June 18, the Ukrainian government slapped two of the country’s oligarchs, Dmytro Firtash and Pavel Fuks, with penalties for allegedly corrupt business dealings. One thing they have in common: Rudy Giuliani.
Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council has accused Firtash, a controversial tycoon who first made money by transporting Russian natural gas, of supplying the raw materials for titanium to the Russian military, which has invaded Ukraine in 2014 and currently supports separatists waging war in the eastern Donbass region. . Fuks, who amassed his fortune as a Moscow real estate developer, has been sanctioned for illegally obtaining oil and gas licenses through the kleptocratic and Putin-aligned regime of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Giuliani, who faces a criminal investigation resulting from his efforts in 2019 to unearth negative information about Joe Biden in Ukraine, has links to the two oligarchs. (A New York Court of Appeals suspended Giuliani’s legal license Thursday on another case, citing “patently false and misleading” statements he made in court and elsewhere about the 2020 election.)
In 2019, Giuliani enlisted Firtash’s help in arguing false allegations that Biden, as vice president, pressured Ukraine to sack a high-ranking prosecutor to derail an investigation. on Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company where Hunter Biden served on the board. (Biden had indeed pushed for the impeachment of prosecutor Viktor Shokin, but that was because the official was not pursuing anti-corruption investigations vigorously enough.) For the past seven years, Firtash has fought extradition to the United States, where he faces charges for allegedly bribing Indian government officials to secure a contract with Boeing. In 2017, prosecutors in this case labeled Firtash, a “top echelon” associate of “Russian organized crime,” an allegation he denies.
In 2019 Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-American associate of Giuliani (who also faces criminal charges), urged Firtash to hire two lawyers close to Giuliani, Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova, a married couple friendly with the attorney general of then Bill Barr. Firtash later Told the New York Times that Toensing and diGenova said they would use their influence to pressure the Justice Department to withdraw the evidence used in the case against him. (Toensing and diGenova ultimately raised Firtash’s case in a personal meeting with Barr.) According to Parnas’ attorney, Joseph Bondy, the attorneys wanted Firtash’s help in return. “Per Giuliani’s instructions,” Bondy told the Time, Parnas “informed Mr. Firtash that Toensing and diGenova were interested in collecting information on the Bidens.”
This arrangement led Giuliani to cite baseless allegations about Biden that had been generated by Firtash’s legal team. In one example, in September 2019, Giuliani appeared on television touting a affidavit of Shokin, the prosecutor Biden sought ousting, containing allegations about Biden. Shokin says in the affidavit that he was speaking “at the request of lawyers acting for Dmitry Firtash”.
Firtash admitted that he knew that Toensing and diGenova, his lawyers, were working with Giuliani. Firtash also recognized pay Parnas, supposedly for travel expenses.
But in a statement, Lanny Davis and Dan Webb, attorneys for Firtash, disputed their client’s connection to Giuliani. “Despite multiple false reports in the media and on the internet, it is true that Dmytro Firtash never spoke or met Giuliani and has nothing to do with Giuliani or anyone else’s efforts to dig up the dirt on Mr. Biden or his son. It is an outright lie if anyone says otherwise.
Giuliani said in 2019 that he had “nothing to do with Firtash”, although he was working closely with Firtash’s attorneys at the time.
Davis, a lawyer who represents Firtash in the United States, declined to comment on the oligarch’s connection to Giuliani, but disputed the basis for the new Ukrainian sanctions. Firtash “was not given advance notice and was not given the opportunity to challenge the allegations before the Security Council.” Davis said that “Mr. Firtash categorically denies the allegations, which he says are false. ”
Giuliani admits to having worked with Fuks, the other recently sanctioned Ukrainian oligarch. Giuliani has already said Mother Jones that in 2017, Fuks hired Giuliani Security & Safety, a consultancy firm headed by the former mayor, to advise Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, on “security and emergency management”. Fuks offered a different account. He claims in 2018, he hired Giuliani to “create an American office to support investments in” Kharkiv. And he said later on New York Times that Giuliani was “the lobbyist for Kharkiv and Ukraine”. Giuliani, who did not register with the Justice Ministry as a foreign agent for work, denies it.
Fuks has a colorful history. He owns claims he negotiated directly with Donald Trump between 2004 and 2010 on building a Trump brand turn to Moscow, but the deal never advanced. Fuks, who moved from Moscow to Kharkiv in 2015, was later struck by fraud charges in Russia and lost his nationality there. (He says he gave it up.)
In 2017, when he hired Giuliani, Fuks hoped to rekindle his relationship with Trump. He traveled to Washington for Trump’s inauguration. He later for follow-up Republican fundraiser and lobbyist, Yuri Vanetik, alleging that Vanetik defrauded him of $ 200,000 for what he thought were VIP tickets to the event. Fuks was left watching Trump take the oath from a hotel bar. Federal law prohibits foreign nationals from purchasing tickets to inaugural presidential committees; Fuks alleges he was conned into what would have been an illegal deal. Fuks, who records show property in Miami Beach ten years ago, was not allowed to travel to the United States after his visit in 2017, a step he claims to have influenced by Vanitek. (US officials have not explained the reason for the travel restriction. Fuks’ lawsuit against Vanitek is scheduled to go to trial on July 6.
Vanetik, a Ukraine-born US citizen, denies promising Fuks inaugural tickets or influencing Fuks’ visa restriction. He said that the money Fuks paid him was related to the work he had done, like Giuliani, for Kharkiv at Fuks’ request, and that he offered to help Fuks attend an inaugural ball, and not at the inauguration itself. This month, Vanetik responded with to pursue Fuks in a California state court, alleging that their dispute led to Fuks threatening to kill him and later attempting to arrange Vanetik’s murder. Vanetik said he reported the threat to the FBI and sent a letter to the State Department that includes affidavits from four men who claim to have overheard Fuks discussing Vanetik’s murder plans.
Fuks denied Vanetik’s claims and called the trial “nonsense” in a statement sent by a spokesperson. “For an assessment… it would be worth contacting specialists in the medical field, not the legal field,” Fuks said.
Fuks also challenged the basis for sanctions in Ukraine. He said he had never had an interest in the oil company whose activity was behind the sanctions and accused the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine of working with the one of Fuks’ business rivals. “I will defend my reputation in Ukrainian and international courts,” he said.
Fuks and Firtash join a long list of Ukrainians linked to Giuliani who have been accused of embezzlement. A report declassified in March by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence suggested that Andriy Derkach, a Ukrainian lawmaker as the Treasury Department previously called “an active Russian agent,” used the former New York mayor to advance Russian disinformation intended to help Trump in the 2020 election. Last year, the Treasury also sanctioned four other Ukrainians from whom Giuliani requested information, alleging that they had aided Russian interference efforts. Parnas and two other men who aided Giuliani’s efforts were accused in New York for fraud and campaign finance violations. Last week, FBI agents raided the home of an associate California businessman who helped Giuliani try to produce a documentary on the Bidens and Ukraine.
Giuliani did not respond to a request for comment this week. But he has already responded to accusations about people he worked with in Ukraine, saying he was professionally obligated to deal with them. “Where do you think you get evidence on horrible people?” Giuliani asked in a word in New York this month. “From other horrible people.”