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George Santos: New details link New York congressman to Andrew Intrater, cousin of sanctioned Russian oligarch

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George Santos, the new Republican congressman from New York who lied about his biography, has deeper ties than previously known to a businessman who has cultivated close ties with a former Trump confidant and is the cousin of a sanctioned Russian oligarch, according to reports. video footage and court documents.

Andrew Intrater and his wife have each donated the maximum $5,800 to Santos’ main campaign committee and tens of thousands more since 2020 to committees linked to him, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. Intrater’s cousin is Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who was sanctioned by the US government for his role in Russia’s energy industry.

The relationship between Santos and Intrater goes beyond campaign contributions, according to a statement made privately by Santos in 2020 and a court filing the following year in a lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against an investment company. Florida-based investment, Port city capitalwhere santos work For more than one year.

Taken together, the evidence suggests that Santos may have had a business relationship with Intrater, as Santos first entered politics in 2020. It also shows, according to the SEC filing, that Intrater invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Santos’ former employer, Harbor City. , which has been accused by regulators of running a Ponzi scheme. Neither Santos nor Intrater responded to requests for comment. Lawyers who represented Intrater also did not respond.

The MP, whose election of Long Island last year helped the GOP secure its slim majority in the House, apologized for what he called “resumé embellishment” as rebuffing calls for his resignation. He is under the control of prosecutors in New York and Rio de Janeiro.

The ties between Santos, 34, and Intrater, 60, reflect how Santos found personal and political support on his path to public office.

While Intrater is a US citizen, his company, investment firm Columbus Nova, has always had close ties to the business interests of its Russian cousin. As recently as 2018, when Vekselberg was sanctioned by the Treasury Department, his conglomerate was Columbus Nova’s biggest customer, the company confirmed to the Post that year.

Intrater’s interactions in 2016 and 2017 with Michael Cohen, who at the time was working as a lawyer for Donald Trump, came under scrutiny during Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections and possible ties between Trump and the Kremlin.

Intrater’s company paid Trump’s lawyer and self-proclaimed repairman to identify deals for his company, and court records show they exchanged hundreds of text messages and phone calls. Neither Intrater nor Vekselberg have been accused of wrongdoing in Mueller’s investigation.

In 2020, when Santos was tasked by Harbor City with locating investors in New York, he claimed during a Harbor City meeting held on Zoom that Intrater’s investment firm, Columbus Nova, was one of his “customers,” according to footage obtained by The Washington Post.

He made the comment during a discussion of the difficulties of residential real estate investing, especially for investors investing in the 1,400ft tall tower at 432 Park Avenue in Manhattan, which for some time has been the tallest residential building in the world. Intrater did not respond to questions about whether it or Columbus Nova were involved in the project.

“You might know who they are,” Santos added during the company meeting, referring to Columbus Nova. “They made the headlines several times. They were heavily involved in the Russia investigation. Unjustified.”

“But it’s a real estate company,” Santos added. “They are legit.”

Santos did not respond to a text message seeking comment. Intrater did not respond to an emailed question whether its company was Santos’ customer as claimed or on the filing with Harbor City.

The congressman falsified substantial aspects of his work experience. And, in Harbor City Zoom meetings reviewed by The Post, he recounted transactions with other high-profile investors or wealthy organizations that those entities denied had taken place.

But Harbor City was able to obtain a $625,000 filing from a Mississippi-registered company that identifies Intrater as its sole officer, according to an attachment to the SEC’s complaint against Harbor City. The alleged filing, which is undated, is included in a table that lists several entities the SEC says made payments to Harbor City.

The Mississippi company, FEA Innovations, is registered with Intrater, according to the Secretary of State Archives. The registration documents do not include any other officers or directors and identify Intrater’s address as the same as that used by Columbus Nova on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Columbus Nova is now known as Sparrow Capital.

In the SEC action, initiated in April 2021, regulators accused Harbor City and its founder of running a “classic Ponzi scheme” – promising investors reliable profits and cheating them out of millions instead.

The SEC complaint did not name Santos, who refuse knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing, despite being told by a potential investor that the company was using a fraudulent bank document, as The Post previously reported.

Harbor City founder JP Maroney has denied the SEC’s allegations, which have gone to federal court in Florida. The company itself did not respond to the court. Maroney did not respond to a text message regarding the alleged Intrater company filing. The exhibit that identifies Intrater’s alleged company filing does not specify its purpose or suggest that Intrater had knowledge of alleged wrongdoing in Harbor City.

After Harbor City’s assets were frozen and with the help of another former Harbor City employee, Santos in 2021 formed a company, the Devolder Organization, which paid him at least $3.5 million over the past few years. next two years, according to Florida. commercial documents and financial disclosure forms he presented himself as a candidate. Santos loaned more than $700,000 to his campaign but reported no income from Harbor City despite being paid by the company as recently as April 2021.

Details of Santos’ Harbor City tenure have been confirmed by a appointed lawyer monitoring the liquidation of the company’s assets.

Columbus Nova became a topic of interest for the Mueller investigation as prosecutors investigated ties forged by Intrater and his company with Cohen, a confidant of Trump at the time.

Intrater donated $250,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee, according to campaign finance records, and attended the 2017 inauguration, along with Vekselberg. The Washington Post reported that the two men met Cohen at the inauguration. Soon after, Columbus Nova began paying Cohen as part of a deal to recruit new investors for the company, The Post reported. Court records show the payments totaled $583,000.

Court records also show that Cohen and Intrater exchanged more than 1,000 calls and texts between November 2016 and November 2017. Intrater donated $35,000 to attend a 2017 fundraiser for Trump’s re-election, at the Cohen’s invitation, The Post reported.

Federal officials questioned both Intrater and Vekselberg during the investigation, questioning the latter after his private plane made a stopover in the United States in 2018, people familiar with the investigation said.

Cohen eventually pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax and bank evasion, and lying to Congress — matters unrelated to his interactions with Columbus Nova. Enter told the New York Times in 2019 that his omission from Mueller’s final report “confirms what I knew all along – that I did nothing wrong”.

Cohen later turned on Trump, criticizing him in a 2019 congressional hearing and cooperating with investigations into his former boss’ business practices.

Vekselberg and his company, Renova, were sanctioned by the Treasury Department in April 2018, cited for profiting from the “malicious activity worldwide” of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In April 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Vekselberg’s $90 million yacht was seized by the Spanish authorities at the request of the United States.

Columbus Nova has long been described as closely associated with the Renova Group, a Russian conglomerate led by Vekselberg. As recently as 2017, a Renova Group website listed Columbus Nova as one of its companies, and Columbus Nova confirmed to The Post in 2018 that the Vekselberg conglomerate was its biggest customer at the time. However, the company said at the time that it was American-owned and had never been controlled by Renova Group or Vekselberg.

Devlin Barrett, Emma Brown and Jonathan O’Connell contributed to this report.

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