U.S. Prosecutors Question Second Ukraine Naftogaz Executive In Giuliani Probe

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U.S. federal prosecutors have interviewed a second executive at the Ukrainian state-owned Naftogaz energy giant as part of their investigation into the business dealings of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, suggesting the scope of their probe is widening.

Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev voluntarily met with federal investigators in London, the AP reported citing a person familiar with the details who is not authorized to publicly discuss the federal probe.

The CEO’s lawyer, Lanny Breuer, confirmed to the AP the meeting had taken place but wouldn’t say when or where his client met with Justice Department representatives.

Another Naftogaz executive, Andrew Favorov, in November also voluntarily met with federal prosecutors in New York.

The Justice Department is investigating whether Giuliani violated federal lobbying and campaign finance laws.

The U.S. House of Representative’s impeachment hearings have focused narrowly on Giuliani’s role in pursuing Ukrainian investigations into Democrats, like former Vice President Joe Biden.

Rudy Giuliani (center), the personal attorney of U.S. President Donald Trump, walks with Lev Parnas in December 2018.

Rudy Giuliani (center), the personal attorney of U.S. President Donald Trump, walks with Lev Parnas in December 2018.

However, interviews by federal prosecutors with Naftogaz executives suggest they are expanding the scope of their investigation and reviewing the business affairs of Giuliani and his associates broader, the AP reported.

Giuliani’s close associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, have been indicted on charges of federal campaign finance violations, conspiracy, making false statements, and falsification of records.

They and Giuliani have been involved in backchannel meetings with current and former Ukrainian officials regarding investigations into Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and Democratic party activities in the 2016 presidential election.

In March, Parnas and Fruman approached Favorov at an energy conference in Texas to offer a partnership in a venture to export U.S. liquefied gas to Ukraine.

They also discussed the possibility of Favorov replacing Kobolyev, his corporate superior.

Giuliani has denied taking part in the two suspects’ efforts to seal a gas deal in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Giuliani, a former mayor of New York, traveled to Hungary and Ukraine on December 3-4 to talk with former Ukrainian prosecutors, shrugging off any notion that it was risky for him to continue seeking evidence of alleged corruption by Joe Biden or that Ukrainians had a hand in interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

He defended his actions, telling the New York Times that “like a good lawyer, I am gathering evidence to defend my client against the false charges being leveled against him.”

Trump currently is facing a congressional impeachment inquiry into whether he abused the power of his office for personal political gain.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and dismissed the investigation as a “hoax” and “witch hunt.”

Giuliani’s meetings with the former Ukrainian prosecutors are part of a documentary series that is intended to debunk the impeachment case and is being aired by the conservative One America News Network.

Three of the former high-level prosecutors, Yuriy Lutsenko, Viktor Shokin, and Kostyantyn Kulyk, have promoted views that have been embraced by certain Republicans.

They face allegations of corruption in Ukraine, and Lutsenko, in particular, is being investigated for abuse of office. Kulyk was recently dismissed for not undergoing a mandatory professional exam, a key component of which includes an integrity test.

However, they have at different times and to varying degrees promoted unverified claims about Biden and his son, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and Ukrainians who distributed damaging information on Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman in 2016, who has since been convicted.

Much of what they have said, including to Giuliani, have formed the basis of efforts by Trump and Giuliani of trying to get the Ukrainian government to open investigations that would purportedly benefit Trump as he runs for office again.

With reporting by CNN, AP, The New York Times, AFP, dpa

News – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

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