Rudy Giuliani’s goon, Lev Parnas, isn’t exactly a criminal mastermind. His lifetime career on the wrong side of the law seems to be more bumbling than brilliant.
Lev has been the subject of news stories for months, but there are a few things mainstream media has missed, which are important in being able to understand what the hell is going on with the Trump administration. TrumpGate is so much more than Ukraine and a quid pro quo.
Parnas has been involved with organized crime for most of his adult life, and probably during his teen years as well, but is Lev Parnas a member of the Red Mafia? I can’t claim he is for sure, but honestly, how many friends, associates, and businesses affiliated with organized crime do we allow someone to have before we entertain the possibility they might also be a gangster? Lev has a lot of connections to organized crime. Trump has even more.
If you’ve been keeping up with the Parnas drama, you probably know that Lev, his sister Lyudmila, and his parents, Aron and Zhanna, emmigrated from the Ukraine to America when Lev was a toddler. The Parnas family ended up in Michigan first, where Aron got his Social Security Number and then moved to Brooklyn.
What you haven’t heard about Lev is that his father, Aron Parnas, died at the age of 46. Lev would have been around the age of 11 when his father passed away.
Lev’s mother, Zhanna Parnas, had obtained her cosmetology license the year before, so she was probably working in a beauty parlor and able to support her family after her husband’s death.
At the age of 49, Zhanna married again. This time it was to a 54 year old Russian immigrant named Valeri Markovski. Like Zhanna, he had adult children, Valeri Jr and Yana (another story here, coming soon). This new blended family of immigrants could have lived happily ever after, but nope, this is where things become curiously odd.
Valeri Markovski emigrated from Dniepepetrovsk, U.S.S.R. to Brooklyn in 1989. 1989 is the same year he married Zhanna Parnas, and he found the time to start a New York corporation.
American Valmar International
Markovski’s corporation was called American Valmar International, Ltd, a brokerage for customers in Russia. His clients would send him money, he’d purchase American goods, and then ship them to Russia (If this alreadey sounds like a money laundering setup to you, you’re as jaded as I am). Valmar was probably the export business Parnas said he was involved with.
The marriage between Markovski and Lev’s mother didn’t last long. One reason behind the breakup may have been when Lev’s mom was sent to prison in Russia for 8 months. By 1993, they were divorced and Markovski married wife #3, Lina Arbatova.
This was not Lina’s first marriage, she came as a package deal with a child named Anton (that’s another story). Markovski’s business was doing well, so the new family purchased a $600,000 penthouse apartment across the river in New Jersey.
Though Markovski had moved on, he didn’t disconnect from the Parnas clan. Court records state that Lyudmila Parnas worked for American Valmar until 1995.
1995 was the year when things went south for Markovski. He obtained his US citizenship, but also got the attention of the IRS. A tax court found him guilty of under reporting his income by $3 million dollars for the years 1991, 1992, and 1993. The IRS had noticed American Valmar was receiving millions of dollars from Russia, but those millions of dollars were not all being used to purchase American goods for his Russian clients.
As a broker, Markovski was entitled to a percentage of the money his clients sent him as payment for services rendered, but for the years in question, the IRS had a problem with so much of his client’s money sitting in American bank accounts at year’s end, not to mention Markovski had been dipping into his client’s money for personal expenses-like remodeling his condo. Markovski claimed some of the money being sent was from his own “ruble hoard” that he’d had to leave behind when he emigrated from Russia. Considering what was going on in Russia, it’s understandable that the IRS suspected there might be some money laundering going on.
“On May 30, 1991, Markovski purchased a condominiium apartment in Fort Lee, New Jersey (the condominium), for $604,150. Previously, Markovski had rented the condominium. during 1991, American Valmar spent at least $57,137 for improvements to and home furnishings for the condominium. That $57,137 was debited to contracts payable. Subsequently, Markovski sold the condominium and purchased another apartmentin the same building. The improvements to the condominium and some of the furnishing purchased for it remained in the condominium when it was sold.”
So Long Soviet Union
The Soviet Union officially dissolved in December of 1991, but it had been slowly falling apart long before that. Some Russian citizens were sending their money out of the country to keep from losing it in the chaotic Russian economy.
Charges of tax evasion are often used as a legal remedy for money laundering. Whether that was the case with Valmar or not, the lawsuit ended in a split decision. Some of the charges stuck and some were overturned. What’s more interesting are Valmar’s clients.
From 1991 to 1993, Valmar didn’t have a lot of clients, but they had a lot of money. One client was Kond Petroleum, an oil company in Siberia, another was Diapazon, a manufacturer of plastic tableware. The interesting clients were Anatoly Seregin and Interrosa.
The Gangster Connection
There’s not much info on Anatoly Seregin, but by 2008 he was Minister of Territorial Development in the Transbaikal region. He was removed as minister in 2010 when money allocated for the purchase of construction equipment went missing.
An interesting, and perhaps very telling, clue about Seregin is an article on the blog crimerussia with an old picture of Seregin’s son-in-law, Yevgeny G(far left) locking arms with a notorious mafia underboss, Georgy Uglava, aka Takhi-the dude with the sweater.
Also in the picture is Takhi’s former right-hand man, who was murdered by rival gangsters in 2005-so obviously the picture was taken before then..
UPDATE: The son-in-law, Yevgeny Goncharov, and Takhi were arrested in 2015 for a crime committed in 2007. They were both found guilty of extortion, and sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.
Having a gangster as a son-in-law is not unique (looking at you Donald) so it’s certainly possible Anatoly Seregin was involved with Transbaikal gangsters back when he was doing business with American Valmar and Markovski.
The OG Oligarch
The most eyebrow raising client of Valmar was Interros, the company founded by oligarch, Vladimir Potanin, back before there were oligarchs.
Potanin was a career employee with the USSR Ministry of Foreign Trade, but quit in 1991 to start Interros. By 1993, he owned his own bank.
This time period, 1991-1993, when Potanin was a client of American Valmar and went from rags to riches, is the time period the IRS found troubling.
In 1995, while Markovski was dealing with IRS problems, Potanin was enacting his scheme, loans-for-shares, in which state owned companies were auctioned off by his bank at far below market value to select individuals. The winners of the rigged elections became rich beyond belief and were the first oligarchs of Russia. Potanin “won” the nickel producing company Norilsk and went on to become the richest oligarch in Russia.
In present day, Potanin is one of the last of the original oligarchs and considered to be part of Putin’s inner circle.
So yes, the connection between Lev Parnas’s stepfather and Interros is 25 years old, but Markovski is still alive, and here we are with the bumbling criminal, Lev Parnas, able to hook up Rudy Giuliani with major Ukrainian government officials.
It gives one food for thought.
Click here for more West Wing Mafia connections.
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So please don’t send a hit man to ice us, bro.