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

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Andriy Kobolyev, CEO of Ukrainian state-run Naftogaz, is the company's second executive to be questioned by U.S. prosecutors as part of their probe into Rudy Giuliani.

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, 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 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, also met voluntarily with federal prosecutors in New York in November.

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, 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 back-channel 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 the Bidens 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 is currently facing a congressional impeachment inquiry into whether he abused the power of his office for personal political gain. He 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, has formed the basis of efforts by Trump and Giuliani to try to get the Ukrainian government to open investigations that would purportedly benefit Trump as he runs for reelection.

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