Politicians and associates in New York on both sides of the aisle are implicated in alleged involvement of misappropriated money to benefit the launch of a pot business. Two Rudy Giuliani associates—Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman—told a Russian millionaire in 2018 they offered a $125,000 straw donation to then-Governor Andrew Cuomo to curry favor in launching a pot business in New York, court filings say.
First reported by New York Daily News, the ongoing scandal continues to reveal a web of corruption in marijuana markets in multiple states.
Cuomo signed legislation on March 31 to legalize adult-use cannabis in New York, but was criticized for dragging his feet in getting the market up and running. New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who replaced Cuomo, promised to pick up where Cuomo failed, and get the state’s adult-use cannabis market off the ground.
New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act provides advanced social equity provisions. Like any other state with a legal market, competition is high to obtain licenses and establish dominance in the market.
But allegations of corruption in the approval process could include both the former governor and the former attorney of Donald Trump.
The new documents claim Fruman sent Muraviev a list of which politicians had received the Russian millionaire’s money—including the alleged pot business donation. “The list includes $125,000 ‘Paid’ to then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo,” federal prosecutors wrote. But prosecutors admitted that there’s no solid evidence that Parnas, Fruman “or anyone acting at their behest actually made this payment” to the ex-governor.
Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi, who resigned last month amid sexual misconduct allegations, said Cuomo’s team had never heard of the donation.
Prosecutors involved in the case don’t seem to be able to determine the intentions of the Giuliani associates, and whether the offer was just a ploy. “Although [they] agreed to use Muraviev’s money to fund their joint cannabis business—primarily by donating to U.S. politicians they believed would help the business—they did not in fact use all the money for that purpose,” the federal prosecutors wrote. “Among other things, Parnas and Fruman used a portion of the money to cover expenses for luxurious hotel accommodations and airfare, and other personal…