December 18, 2019 / 3:08 PM / a month ago

EXCLUSIVE-UPDATE 1-Ukrainian tycoon's lawyer says he lent money to Giuliani associate

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By Lisa Barrington and Nafisa Eltahir

DUBAI, Dec 18 (Reuters) - A Swiss lawyer said on Wednesday he had lent $1 million to Lev Parnas, an associate of U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and Parnas’ wife in order for them to buy a home in Florida.

In his first public comments on the transaction since it was revealed by U.S. prosecutors this week, the Dubai-based lawyer, Ralph Isenegger, said in an emailed statement to Reuters that the interest-bearing loan was a personal business transaction.

“The funds were entirely mine and I was not acting in this matter at the request of or on behalf of any of my clients or indeed anyone else,” he said in the statement.

U.S. prosecutors said Ukraine-born U.S. citizen Parnas, who has been charged with campaign finance violations, concealed the payment from them. Parnas, who is under house arrest in Florida, denied hiding it.

The prosecutors said Isenegger was a lawyer for Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, one of Ukraine’s wealthiest businessman who is fighting extradition by U.S. authorities on bribery charges from Vienna, where he has lived for five years.

Parnas was charged alongside another Florida businessman, Belarus-born Igor Fruman, with illegally funneling money to a pro-Trump election committee and other politicians. Fruman and Parnas have pleaded not guilty.

Isenegger said Lev and Svetlana Parnas had requested the loan in August this year and that it was extended to them in five installments of $200,000 with a 5% interest rate. The loan is repayable in full by 2024, he added.

Isenegger said the loan was made in full before Parnas’s arrest. “I then requested the return of the funds, but neither Mr. Parnas nor his wife has responded to my request,” he said.

“This was a personal business transaction between myself and Lev and Svetlana Parnas ... Mr Parnas asked to keep the loan confidential, so I told no one else about it.” (Editing by Mark Bendeich)

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