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Unsealed Indictment Charges Russian Oligarch with Plot to Bribe and Obtain Cannabis License in Nevada

There is a conspiracy sweeping across multiple states that aims to influence elections and obtain illegal cannabis licenses in Nevada, and other places.

A March 14th indictment by the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York revealed that a Russian-oligarch conspired to score illegally in Nevada a cannabis license. The federal prosecutors say that these actions are illegal campaign contributions.

Andrey Muraviev—who happens to be a Russian oligarch—was charged with violating federal campaign finance laws in 2018. Muraviev is accused of illegally funneling donations to former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt—with the perk of winning an adult-use cannabis business license in Nevada. Laxalt is already accused of corruption.

This news comes at a moment when all businesses are cutting ties to Russian oligarchs. However, it is for another reason as the Ukraine conflict escalates.

Muraviev is charged with conspiring with Lev Parnas, Ukrainian-born Andrey Kukushkin and Igor Fruman and others—all of whom were convicted at trial or have pleaded guilty to related crimes. 

Five men are being charged with plotting Muraviev’s $1,000,000 extortion scheme. They then made donations to political campaigns, which could be used to fund political candidates. 

Miami HeraldReports claim that the plot was to secure cannabis licenses throughout several states. But it ended in ashes after Parnas and Fruman, along with two associates, failed to submit required paperwork in time to receive licenses in Nevada.

Muraviev became a CEO in a Russian cement business and also through QIWI’s online payment platform. Before he met Parnas, he had invested in cannabis businesses in California.

According to prosecutors, Muraviev remains in Russia.

Damian Williams, U.S. Assistant for the Southern District of New York and Michael J. Driscoll the Assistant Director in-Charge of New York Field Office of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced the desealing via a press release.

“As alleged, Andrey Muraviev, a Russian national, attempted to influence the 2018 elections by conspiring to push a million dollars of his foreign funds to candidates and campaigns,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll said. “He attempted to corrupt our political system to advance his business interests. The Southern District of New York is committed to rooting out efforts by foreigners to interfere with our elections.”

These actions demonstrate that federal prosecutors won’t tolerate illegal donations intended to influence elections.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll agreed, saying “as alleged, Muraviev, a Russian foreign national, made illegal political contributions and conspired with Parnas, Kukushkin and Fruman to obscure their true source. As alleged by Muraviev, the money he injected into the political system was intended to benefit his business interests as well as those of his conspirators. As today’s action demonstrates, we will continue to aggressively pursue all those who seek to illegally affect our nation’s elections.”

The Nevada IndependentAccording to reports, Parnas was convicted last October of six charges related to money funneling into U.S. elections. Laxalt, who testified during the trial, said that Parnas had promised to host a fundraiser, but it never happened. 

Fruman pleaded guilty in September to illegal foreign contributions.