How a crypto case involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff links to Maria Butina, Paul Erickson and a U.S.-Ukraine businessman with oligarch ties

Rowland Marcus Andrade, AML BitCoin logo, Jack Abramoff
From left to right: Rowland MarcusAndrade, AML BitCoin logo, Jack Abramoff

In June 2020 Jack Abramoff and Rowland Marcus Andrade were charged as co-conspirators by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission for a $5 million fraud related to the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for AML BitCoin.

Rowland Marcus Andrade founded the NAC Foundation and AML BitCoin which used technology that Andrade ironically claimed would allow his cryptocurrency to comply with anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) laws and regulations. From 2017 to 2018 Andrade hired Abramoff and paid him $220,000 to help market and publicize AML BitCoin.

Jack Abramoff was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud related to AML BitCoin and with violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act by failing to disclose his lobbying work for a California marijuana business. Abramoff is perhaps the most notorious convicted lobbyist in the U.S. and from 2006 to 2010 he served nearly four years in prison for charges related to corrupt lobbying that defrauded Native American tribes of millions of dollars and for using the money to try to win favor with lawmakers.

He pleaded guilty to the charges related to AML BitCoin and the government has noted that:

Abramoff was aware of the obligations to register as a lobbyist in part because Congress amended provisions of the Lobbying Disclosure Act in 2007 in part as a reaction to Abramoff’s past conduct as a lobbyist.”

Unlike Abramoff, Rowland Marcus Andrade has been fighting the charges and has made discovery requests asking the government for information on Abramoff, convicted Russian agent Maria Butina, convicted felon Paul Erickson, and a less familiar name, U.S.-Ukraine businessman Alexander Levin.

The U.S. government has pushed back on many of Andrade’s requests for being too broad and for including people the government says were not involved in the AML BitCoin case.

Following is more detail on Andrade’s case and the discovery requests related to Abramoff, Butina, Erickson and Levin. Note that Alexander Levin is not accused of any wrongdoing. The information presented by Rowland Marcus Andrade in his court filings is not proven factual information. However, some details are confirmed in the responses from the U.S. government. And new research reported here shows how Levin links to not only Abramoff, but through philanthropic and past business activity to a network of oligarchs, reputed mafia figures and associates of Donald Trump.

Rowland Marcus Andrade’s Defense

Rowland Marcus Andrade was indicted by a federal grand jury in San Francisco in 2020 for wire fraud and money laundering. The fraud involved Andrade’s allegedly false statements to induce purchasers to buy tokens for his cryptocurrency AML BitCoin and his alleged misappropriation of their money, including over $1 million used to purchase several homes and cars for his personal use.

Andrade’s defense against these charges is that Abramoff was scheming with others to use AML BitCoin for his own purposes:

Mr. Abramoff was scheming with others — behind Mr. Andrade’s back and without his knowledge or participation — to use Mr. Andrade’s company and patented technology for Mr. Abramoff’s own purposes. He contends that the discovery will refute the government’s accusation that he acted with criminal intent. The discovery involves four persons: Mr. Abramoff (Mr. Andrade’s co-schemer who pleaded guilty to wire fraud and failure to register as a lobbyist, see supra) and three others — Maria Butina, Alexander Levin, and Paul Erickson — who had relationships with Mr. Abramoff.

Following is an excerpt from an April 2023 Discovery Order showing that Andrade moved to compel discovery from the U.S. government for statements, documents and information on devices belonging to Abramoff, Butina, Erickson and Levin:

Excerpt from USA v Rowland Marcus Andrade, Case No. 20-cr-00249-RS (LB), DISCOVERY ORDER

Landfair Capital Consulting

One key factor in Rowland Marcus Andrade’s defense and discovery requests is how Jack Abramoff’s company Landfair Capital Consulting connects to Butina, Erickson and Levin. Andrade claimed Maria Butina and Paul Erickson were involved in AML BitCoin based on a “money connection” through Landfair.

Landfair Capital Consulting is also connected to Abramoff’s interactions with Alexander Levin.

Landfair was incorporated in March 2017 (and dissolved in July 2019) by Jack Abramoff’s brother Robert, a lawyer who was also the agent for Andrade’s company NAC Payroll Services.

Jack’s son Alex is listed as CEO, CFO, Secretary and Director of Landfair and is also the agent for Blockchain Entertainment which Andrade said was meant to produce the AML BitCoin show funded by Alexander Levin.

According to Andrade’s discovery filings “Evidence on Abramoff’s cell phone from June 2018 shows that he discussed consulting on a cryptocurrency project with Levin and sent him a proposal, a contract, and a $750,000 invoice from Landfair Consulting.

A 2018 Buzzfeed story on the money trail behind Russian agent Maria Butina and Paul Erickson — that pre-dates the charges against Andrade and Abramoff — had revealed that Erickson wired money into Jack Abramoff’s company Landfair Capital Consulting.

Last summer, Erickson sent two wires for $15,000 to a California company established by the son and brother of Jack Abramoff, a disgraced former lobbyist who is Erickson’s longtime friend, political ally, and business partner. The company, Landfair Capital Consulting, was incorporated in March 2017. Abramoff’s son, Alex, a recent college graduate, is the CEO and sole director; Abramoff’s brother, Robert, is the registered agent. Because the company was newly established and based out of the home of Alex Abramoff, who does not list it on his public profiles, bank investigators flagged it as a possible shell company established to hide Jack Abramoff’s interests.

Although Abramoff’s company Landfair was financially linked to Erickson and Butina, the U.S. government has pushed back on many of Andrade’s claims. The government acknowledged that an AML BitCoin brochure had been found in Maria Butina’s home but said that money deposited in Abramoff’s Landfair account by Butina and Erickson was separate from money in the Landfair account related to AML BitCoin.

Andrade’s Discovery Request for information related to Alexander Levin

According to Andrade, Alexander Levin had been in discussions with Jack Abramoff about financing a crypto film, although the film was never made. And, per Andrade, Levin allegedly hired Abramoff for work related to U.S. and Ukraine politics.

The April 7, 2023 Discovery Order describes in more detail why Andrade was seeking information on Alexander Levin:

He “is connected to this scheming by Abramoff, Butina and Erickson” because he participated “in the development and funding of a television show [referenced in the documents found in Ms. Butina’s house] controlled by Abramoff, starring Abramoff and Mr. Andrade, and produced by Blockchain Entertainment and Ignition Creatives.” Evidence on Mr. Abramoff’s cell phone from June 2018 shows that he discussed consulting on a cryptocurrency project with Mr. Levin and sent him a proposal, a contract, and a $750,000 invoice from Landfair Consulting. In July, Mr. Abramoff “re-wrote” some of the consulting contracts and sent a term sheet that referenced a TV show based on a Ukrainian show that would be produced by Blockchain Entertainment. When the FBI asked him about it in February 2020, Mr. Abramoff said that there was no cryptocurrency-consulting project and the invoice may have been related to the TV project or was a combined invoice for the show and the “US PR” effort. He “could not explain why the invoice was labeled as ‘cryptocurrency consulting.’” Mr. Abramoff “did have conversations with LEVIN about cryptocurrency.”

The description of Alexander Levin in Andrade’s discovery filings matches directly with Alexander Levin who had his devices seized during the investigation of Rudy Giuliani’s work in Ukraine, and who reportedly introduced Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky.

A Joint Status Report in the Andrade case filed on May 26, 2023 says:

In fact, all that the government produced was four spreadsheets that log Levin’s conversations with four different people: Kolomoisky, Abramoff, and two unknown individuals… On March 13, the government emailed that it was “prepared to produce the Levin device extractions from SDNY under an attorneys’-eyes-only protective order.”

Andrade’s filing described Ukrainian-American businessman Alexander Levin, who had conversations with Kolomoisky and had mobile devices seized sometime between October 2019 and April 2020 and mentions device extractions from SDNY.

Stories that reported on an investigation of Rudy Giuliani described a pro-Trump U.S.-Ukraine businessman Alexander Levin who knew Igor Kolomoisky and had his devices seized by SDNY in early 2020.

Levin Devices Seized in the Giuliani Investigation

In 2021 federal prosecutors searched Rudy Giuliani’s apartment and seized his devices in an investigation into whether he broke lobbying laws when he was Trump’s personal lawyer.

The news that the government seized devices from Alexander Levin was revealed by several reporters after Joseph Bondy, the lawyer for Lev Parnas, wrote a letter to the judge with a faulty redaction that said the government seized “the iPhone and iPad of pro-Trump Ukrainian businessman Alexander Levin (02/28/2020 and 3/02/2020)“.

Below is the redacted and unredacted paragraph that revealed that the government had seized materials from multiple people including Rudolph Giuliani, Victoria Toensing, former Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko, former head of the Ukrainian Fiscal Service Roman Nasirov and Alexander Levin.

Alexander Levin and Giuliani Associates Parnas and Fruman

Years before Alexander Levin’s name was revealed in connection with the Giuliani investigation, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) reported that Levin had helped arrange a meeting between oligarch Igor (aka Ihor) Kolomoisky and Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.

An OCCRP article titled “Meet the Florida Duo Helping Giuliani Investigate for Trump in Ukraine” described how starting in 2018 Parnas and Fruman had introduced Giuliani to several Ukrainian prosecutors to discuss “politically damaging information” about Joe and Hunter Biden. Parnas and Fruman were Republican donors and lobbied former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions to call for the dismissal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. While working for Giuliani they promoted their own business plan to sell American liquefied natural gas to Ukraine. A company owned by Parnas called Fraud Guarantee paid Giuliani $500,000 for consulting in the fall of 2018.

Both Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were indicted in 2019 for conspiring to violate straw and foreign donor bans, along with colleagues David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin. News reports later revealed that Lev Parnas had worked directly for oligarch Dmitry Firtash, who has lived for years in Vienna, Austria where he is fighting extradition on bribery charges in the U.S. and who was described by the Justice Department as an “upper-echelon” associate of Russian organized crime. Parnas was retained in early 2019 to work for Firtash as a translator by the law firm of diGenova & Toensing.

The OCCRP story described how Parnas and Fruman were introduced by Alexander Levin to Ihor Kolomoisky, “a Ukrainian oligarch who is alleged to have stolen $5.5 billion from the country’s largest private bank” and was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2021:

Fruman and Parnas were introduced to the oligarch by Alexander Levin, another pro-Trump Ukrainian-American businessman, on the pretence that they wanted to talk about their plan to sell gas to Ukraine, Kolomoisky said in an interview. However, once inside the meeting, the two men told Kolomoisky that they wanted his help getting in touch with Zelensky, in order to help set up a meeting between Giuliani and the president-elect.

Alexander Levin’s connection with Igor Kolomoisky went back to at least 2011 when they were photographed with Vadim Rabinovich at Babi Yar, located in Kyiv, Ukraine, and the site of a massacre of over 33,000 Jewish people by Nazi German forces during World War II.

A 2016 article by Vadim Rabinovich described how he and Alexander Levin created the Babi Yar Memorial Fund and Kolomoisky, Pavel Fuks, Mikhail Fridman and several other people helped support the fund.

Per OCCRP, in response to inquiries, Levin said of Parnas and Fruman:

“I met these gentlemen for the first time in March of 2019. I have no information about what they have done in the past, or what they have done since they met with me. I plan no involvement with them in the future.” “I broke no laws and any suggestion otherwise constitutes slander.”

There is no indication that Parnas, Fruman and Levin had any interactions beyond the meeting with Kolomoisky.

However, Alexander Levin and Igor Fruman were both, coincidentally, very involved in fundraising to support a village in Ukraine called Anatevka, named for the village in “Fiddler on the Roof.” This article by Simona Weinglass provides in-depth coverage of “Anatevka, the curious Chabad hamlet in Ukraine where Giuliani is ‘mayor’.”

At the time that Parnas and Fruman were introduced by Levin to Kolomoisky they were trying to schedule a trip for Giuliani to meet with then-incoming Ukrainian President Zelensky. While the trip did not happen, the official reason for the visit to Ukraine was that Giuliani was going to give a paid speech for American Friends of Anatevka, a New York-based charity set up by Igor Fruman in 2017 along with Rabbi Moshe Azman, the founder of Anatevka.

Like Fruman, Alexander Levin was an important funder of Anatevka and a 2019 article described how he helped fund a new community center:

Anatevka, a small Jewish refugee town 30 km west of Kiev, hosted yesterday an official opening of a new Community Rehab Center — ‘Beit Shmuel’ — funded by the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) and its President, Dr. Michael Mirilashvili, and Alexander Levin, Chair of the Kiev Jewish Community and EAJC Vice-President.

In May 2019 Alexander Levin and Michael Mirilashvili led a delegation to celebrate the opening of the new community center in Anatevka, along with Rabbi Azman, who Levin had known since at least 2012. Shortly after the Anatevka event Rabbi Azman met with Rudy Giuliani in Paris and presented him with an oversized key and made him an honorary mayor of Anatevka.

In a related story, in 2021 I wrote about Alexander Levin’s EAJC colleague Michael Mirilashvili and how in the 1990s and early 2000s he and “Putin’s Chef and Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin worked with the same associates and about some of their reputed mafia links. In 2016 Mirilashvili acquired an Israeli company Water-Gen that had been run by Edward Russo, who was a former environmental advisor for Trump and the Trump Organization.

Alexander Levin and KDD Group

Alexander Levin is a U.S.-Ukraine businessman who founded The World Forum of Russian Jewry in 2012. Levin ran a real estate company in Ukraine called KDD Group. An archived page on the KDD Group website described Levin as a co-founder in 1994 and appointed as the Executive Chairman of KDD Group N.V. (Netherlands) in November 2007. This 2008 Reuters article described KDD Group as the company holding Ukrainian developer Kiev-Donbass (aka Kyiv–Donbass and Kiev-Donbas).

A 2019 article by The Insider on Dmytro Firtash’s mafia ties includes an interview of a former member of the Solntsevskaya gang, Odessa native Leonid Roitman (aka Roytman), who served seven years in a U.S. prison for an attempt on the life of Vyacheslav Konstantinovsky with co-conspirator Monya Elson. Twin brothers Vyacheslav and Oleksandr Konstantinovsky were top executives in the Kiev-Donbass investment group who were targeted in a murder attempt around 2006.

In the interview Roitman claimed that Kiev-Donbass was set up for Semion Mogilevich a Russian mafia boss who was on the FBI’s most wanted list from 2009-2015 and in 2022 the FBI and State Department announced a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

Roitman said he had worked with Kiev-Donbass, and that once a year Alexander Levin along with two other co-owners, Mikhail Grinshpon and Victor Topolov, met with Semion Mogilevich.

Around 1995, [Oleg] Asmakov and Yaponchik [Vyacheslav Ivankov] sent me to Odesa, Ukraine, where we bought Nord Bank and a few more enterprises…Then we started working with the Kiev-Donbass company in Ukraine.

Every year we made sure to pay a visit to Mogilevich. We had an agreement with Kiev-Donbass: they paid us $150,000 a month for current expenses such as security and cars — $450,000 per quarter. Once a quarter, we would split this amount first among the three main units, $150,000 each: Asmakov and me; Mikhas, Avera, and Arnold Tamm; and Mogilevich and Andrei Skoch. At the end of the year, the entire management of Kiev-Donbass would sit down with Mogilevich, and the latter settled payments with the official co-owners, Mikhail Grinshpon, Victor Topolov, and Alexander Levin. This was how he came up with the final amount that Kiev-Donbass had to supply to get square with its criminal protectors.

Mogilevich made the calculations in person, together with Levin, Topolov, and Grinshpon

While Leonid Roitman went to jail for a murder attempt on an executive of KDD Group, it should be noted that all of the details provided by Roitman in his interview are not corroborated and there is no indication that Alexander Levin has been accused of wrongdoing or any criminal activity.

It does appear, however, that KDD Group which was formerly known as Kiev-Donbass, had several links to organized crime figures and one co-owner of KDD Group had links to Trump’s inner circle.

In 2018 Zarina Zabrisky wrote a comprehensive article about Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen and thirty years of his history, including his connection to a co-owner of KDD Group, Victor Topolov. Buzzfeed had previously revealed that Topolov had been a business partner of Alex Oronov, the father-in-law of Michael Cohen’s brother Bryan, and that Michael and Bryan Cohen had done work with Oronov and Topolov’s company.

Buzzfeed reported that Kyiv-Donbass part-owner and executives Topolov and the Konstantinovsky brothers were described by the FBI as Russian organized crime members:

Topolov was a powerful ally, with access to Ukrainian banks and politicians. He also ran a conglomerate, Kyiv-Donbas, that employed three executives the FBI described as members of a violent Russian organized-crime network…Twin brothers Slava and Alex Konstantinovsky, known as the “Brothers Karamazov,” were also employees of Kyiv-Donbas and are said by the FBI to be Russian mafia lieutenants

According to a 2019 article in The Insider, when Alexander Levin introduced Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to Igor Kolomoisky, former people’s deputy and Levin’s Kiev-Donbass associate Vyacheslav Konstantinovsky helped arrange the meeting.

A tangled web, full of coincidental overlaps

Oligarch Dmitry Firtash has been described as an “upper-echelon” associate of Russian organized crime who has worked with Russian mafia boss and FBI’s most-wanted Semion Mogilevich (claims that Firtash vehemently denies). An article by Franklin Foer in The Atlantic described how Dmitry Firtash, who had hired Giuliani associate Lev Parnas as a ‘translator’, had once hired Jack Abramoff to help Firtash in his fight against being extradited to the U.S.

To recap: Firtash had once hired Jack Abramoff. Firtash had also once hired Lev Parnas. Per Rowland Marcus Andrade, Alexander Levin hired Jack Abramoff for work related to U.S. and Ukraine politics. And Levin set up a meeting among Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman and Ihor Kolomoisky.

It’s a small world, full of coincidental – and not so coincidental – tangled webs.

The filings from Rowland Marcus Andrade requesting discovery related to Jack Abramoff, Maria Butina, Paul Erickson and Alexander Levin and the responses from the U.S. government reveal and confirm some new information. And the case raises questions worth further scrutiny. What was the full nature of the interactions between Alexander Levin and Jack Abramoff? And was there any connection between Abramoff’s links to Levin and the activity in Ukraine led by Giuliani with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to dig up dirt on Biden?

Click below for additional highlights from the case

Expand for additional highlights from the April 2023 Discovery Order

The April 7, 2023 Discovery Order by Judge Laurel Beeler provides an overview of the USA v Rowland Marcus Andrade Case No. 20-cr-00249-RS (LB), including the charges, the information requested by Andrade, and various government statements and responses.

Summary of the case:
  • A grand jury in the Northern District of California charged the defendant Marcus Andrade with wire fraud and money laundering (on promotion and concealment theories). The fraud involved Mr. Andrade’s allegedly false statements to induce purchasers to buy tokens for his cryptocurrency AML Bitcoin and his alleged misappropriation of their money. The indictment alleges that a co-schemer worked with Mr. Andrade to promote AML Bitcoin and worked on marketing and public relations for AML Bitcoin. The co-schemer is Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud predicated on his public-relations role with AML Bitcoin and his failing to register as a lobbyist in violation of the Lobbying Disclosure Act.
Summary from the government on Levin, Butina and Erickson:
  • The government describes Mr. Levin more specifically as Mr. Abramoff’s associate and flags that Ms. Butina and Mr. Erickson (who were engaged to each other) were convicted of unrelated federal crimes.
  • Ms. Butina pleaded guilty in December 2018 in the District of Columbia to conspiracy to act in the United States as an agent of a foreign government, Russia. The case had nothing to do with cryptocurrency and involved Ms. Butina’s entering the U.S. on an F-1 student visa, establishing relationships with powerful people in U.S. politics to advance Russia’s interest, and not disclosing that she was a Russian agent.
  • Mr. Erickson pleaded guilty in November 2019 in the District of South Dakota to wire fraud and money laundering, was sentenced in July 2020, and was pardoned in January 2021 by former President Trump. The case had nothing to do with cryptocurrency and involved his soliciting investors to invest in a real-estate venture involving the construction of single-family homes and misappropriating the funds for personal use.
Summary of Andrade’s move to compel discovery:
  • Mr. Andrade moved to compel discovery under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16(a)(1)(E) and Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1983): (1) documents withheld — as potentially attorney-client privileged — from an already-produced image of Jack Abramoff’s phone; (2) images of Alexander Levin’s devices (without any AEO designation); (3) extraction and other information from Paul Erickson’s phone; (4) documents related to the searches and seizures of the Levin, Erickson, and Marina Butina devices; and (5) any statements of Levinson, Erickson, and Butina.
Summary of why the government resists discovery:
  • The government resists the discovery on the grounds that (1) Mr. Andrade has no basis to ask the government to redo its privilege review and has not shown that the withheld information is material, (2) the Levin devices are cumulative, (3) the FBI has no extractions from the Erickson devices, which were destroyed, and the Erickson case in any event had nothing to do with cryptocurrency, (4) it will produce information about Butina (but not Levin and Erickson because there is no relevance), and (5) only statements about Mr. Andrade and his company AML Bitcoin are relevant (and only Butina made a statement, which the government produced), and in any event, there are no statements by Levin.
The court order for discovery:
  • The court orders the following: (1) it adopts Mr. Andrade’s proposed compromise of starting with Robert Abramoff and orders the government to produce any items that are not privileged (and the court suggests some processes below to mitigate the burden); (2) the government must produce the Levin device without an AEO designation; (3) if the government has the Erickson extractions or information about them, then it must produce them, but given its representation that the case file has been destroyed in this unrelated case on the FBI’s normal destruction schedule, the court can order no further relief; (4) limiting productions to references to AML Bitcoin or Mr. Andrade is too narrow and requires a broader production of information; and (5) the same analysis applies to producing the statements.

An August 9, 2022 letter from the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California states:
  • As we have previously communicated, the government does not believe that the investigation into Alexander Levin is relevant to this case. If you have more information about why or how it is relevant, you are welcome to let us know. Otherwise, the government does not believe that any files seized from Mr. Levin are discoverable in this case.


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