San Francisco man arrested for allegedly using foreign money to influence U.S. elections
OAKLAND, Calif. - The San Francisco man named in an indictment, accused of violating campaign finance law will be released from jail under a number of conditions. Andrey Kukushkin was born in the Ukraine and is a U.S. citizen. He is one of the four men named in a grand jury indictment, accused of scheming to use foreign money to influence U.S. elections. FBI agents arrested him at his home in San Francisco. After his bail hearing, Kukushkin’s parents and attorney said they had no comment.
According to the now unsealed indictment, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman conspired to funnel money to a member of congress in an effort to influence U.S. relations with Ukraine. Kukushkin’s role focused on allegedly buying influence with state and federal candidates to help licenses for the quartet’s recreational marijuana businesses in Nevada and other states. Prosecutors say the plan was bankrolled by an unnamed foreign national with “Russian roots.” Records show Kukushkin is the manager of “Oasis Venture,” self-described as an agricultural technology, research and development firm. The company applied to build a marijuana grow in Livermore at a massive property, prosecutors say its valued at roughly $4 million. It’s not clear if the Livermore property is connected to the alleged scheme. “He decided to be in marijuana business which is now very trendy.. and legal,” said Edward Olshanetsky, a friend of Kukushkin.
Olshanetsky and his wife came to court to show their support and help pay his bond if needed. They said he’s a good man who would never break the law. They also said he was in the process of building his marijuana business. “He might have a partner if somebody would cover him, because to get into this business you need money, but nothing was politically motivated,” said Olshanetsky.
In court, the prosecutor argued Kukushkin is an extreme flight risk, telling the judge he surrendered his US passport during his arrest, but not his Ukranian passport. The judge decided to release him on $1 million bond, $100,000 of it paid in cash, the rest secured by his parents’ home in San Francisco. He will also be electrically monitored until he appears in court next. Kukushkin and his co-defendants are scheduled to appear in court in the southern district of New York on Thursday.