Indicted Giuliani associates never contacted tax officials over attempted marijuana business, state says

The four men associated with President Donald Trump’s private attorney and indicted by a federal District Court last week over campaign finance violations never contacted the state’s Department of Taxation in their attempts to woo state officials and win a lucrative retail marijuana license last year.

Department of Taxation spokeswoman Eden Larson confirmed to The Nevada Independent late Tuesday that department records did not show any contact with Igor Fruman, Lev Parnas, David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, the four men named in the indictment who hatched a plot in 2018 that included giving campaign contributions — funded by a Russian national — to Nevada political candidates.

Larson also confirmed that the state had “no rules or prohibitions on foreign investors” for marijuana businesses licensed by the state. Several Canadian firms are investors or owners of Nevada-based marijuana companies.

Parnas and Fruman are closely associated with President Trump’s private lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and are people of interest in the House’s current impeachment inquiry into Trump’s efforts to force a politically beneficial investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who worked for a Ukrainian energy company. 

According to the indictment released last week, the four defendants and an unnamed Russian national met in Las Vegas in September 2018 to discuss a strategy of buying favor with specific power brokers to advance various business ventures, including a retail marijuana license in Nevada. The plot also included a table of political donations to create a “multi-state license strategy,” which contemplated between $1 to $2 million in federal and state political contributions, which would be funded by the foreign national, who wired $500,000 to the group in September 2018.

Correia and Kukushkin incorporated a Nevada-based business called Cannabis Management Group in Nevada on Sept. 14, 2018, and changed the name to Strategic Investment Group 10 days later.

Fruman made maximum $10,000 contributions to then-gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt and former Republican attorney general candidate Wes Duncan on Nov. 1, 2018. Both candidates say they returned the donation immediately after learning of the indictment. 

Although the four men continued to meet into 2019, the proposed dispensary never materialized; the indictment states that Kukushkin told the Russian funder, Parnas and Fruman that they were too late to apply for the licenses.

Several media outlets, including Mother Jones and McClatchy, have strongly hinted that the unnamed foreign national is Russian businessman Andrey Muraviev, given his connections on other cannabis projects along with Kukushkin in California, though no definitive ties have been found.

Fruman and Parnas also accompanied Giuliani to Nevada for a campaign appearance on behalf of Republican congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian in November 2018. Tarkanian told The Nevada Independent that he did not know either man and that they “jumped in (the) picture” when he took a photo with Giuliani that was later posted to his Facebook page.

Following release of the indictment, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said he was “outraged” over the alleged attempt to manipulate Nevada’s marijuana market and said he would create a multi-state agency task force to “root out potential corruption or criminal influences.”

“I can tell you that I’m committed to using every resource in the state of Nevada to root out the corruption and criminal activity as it might be occurring in the legal marijuana marketplace,” he said in an interview last week.