George Santos: New details link New York congressman to sanctioned Russian oligarch’s cousin Andrew Intertrat


George Santos, a freshman Republican congressman from New York who lied about his biography about his ties to a businessman who developed close ties to one-time Trump confidants than previously known, And is a cousin of a sanctioned Russian oligarch, according to video footage and court documents.

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

Santos’ ties to Intrater went beyond campaign contributions, according to a statement Santos made privately in 2020 and a court filing the following year in a SEC lawsuit against Florida-based investment firm Harbor City Capital. Santos worked there for over a year.

Taken together, the evidence suggests that Santos may have had a business relationship with Intrater since Santos first entered politics in 2020. It also showed that Intrater poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Santos’ former employer, Harbor City, which regulators accused of running a Ponzi scheme, according to SEC filings. Neither Santos nor Intrater responded to requests for comment. Lawyers representing Intrater also did not respond.

The congressman elected last year from Long Island, who helped secure the GOP’s slim majority in the House, apologized for what he called “resume glorification” while rejecting calls for his resignation. He is being examined by prosecutors in New York and Rio de Janeiro.

The relationship between Santos, 34, and the 60-year-old Intrater reflects the way Santos has gained personal and political support along his path to public office.

Although Intrater is a US citizen, his company, Columbus Nova Investments, has historically had extensive ties to his Russian cousin’s business interests. As recently as 2018, when Vekselberg was sanctioned by the Treasury Department, his conglomerate was Columbus Nova’s largest customer, the company confirmed to the Post that year.

The Intrater’s interactions in 2016 and 2017 with Michael Cohen, who was then Donald Trump’s lawyer, came under fire during special counsel Robert Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties between Trump and the Kremlin. investigation.

Intrater’s firm paid the lawyer, who described himself as Trump’s go-between, to secure deals for his business, 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 commissioned by Harbor City to find investors in New York, he claimed at a Harbor City meeting via Zoom that Intrater’s investment firm, Columbus Nova, was his “client,” according to footage obtained by Washington Post.

He made the comments while discussing the difficulties of investing in residential real estate, particularly for investors putting money into the 1,400-foot tower at 432 Park Avenue in Manhattan, which was at one point the tallest residential building in the world. Intrater did not respond to questions about whether he or Columbus Nova was involved in the project.

“You probably know who they are,” Santos added at the company meeting, referring to the Columbus Nova. “They’ve been in the news multiple times. They’ve been actively involved in the Russia investigation. There’s no justification.”

“But they’re a real estate company,” Santos added. “They’re legal.”

Santos did not respond to a text message seeking comment. Intrater did not respond to emails asking if his firm was a Santos customer as it claimed, nor did it respond to questions about the Harbor City deposit.

Congressman falsified significant aspects of his work history. And, in a Zoom meeting in Harbor City seen by The Post, he recounted deals with other high-profile investors or wealthy organizations, but those entities denied that any deals took place.

But Harbor City was able to obtain a $625,000 deposit from a Mississippi-registered company that counted Intrater as its sole officer, according to evidence in an SEC complaint against Harbor City. The alleged deposits, which were not dated, were included in a chart listing several entities that the SEC said made payments to Harbor City.

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

In an SEC action launched in April 2021, the regulator accused Harbor City and its founders of running a “classic Ponzi scheme” — promising investors solid profits but defrauding them of millions of dollars .

The SEC complaint did not name Santos, who has denied knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing, despite a potential investor telling him the company was using fraudulent bank documents, as The Post previously reported.

Harbor City founder JP Maroney has denied the charges the SEC filed in Florida federal court. The company itself did not respond in court. Maroney did not respond to text messages about the alleged deposits from Intrater. Exhibits showing deposits allegedly from Intrater did not detail their purpose, nor did it suggest that Intrater had knowledge of Harbor City’s alleged wrongdoing.

With the assistance of a former Harbor City employee, Santos formed a company called Devolder Organization in 2021 after Harbor City’s assets were frozen, according to Florida business records and financial disclosures. He was paid at least $3.5 million during the year for the forms he filed as a candidate. Santos lent his campaign more than $700,000 but did not report any revenue from Harbor City, although the company made the most recent payment in April 2021.

Court-appointed lawyers to oversee the liquidation of the company’s assets confirmed details of Santos’ tenure at Harbor City.

Columbus Nova became the focus of Mueller’s probe as prosecutors looked into connections Intrater and his company had formed with then-Trump confidant Cohen.

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

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

Federal officials questioned Intrater and Vekselberg during the investigation, interviewing the latter after his private jet made a 2018 stopover in the United States, the people said.

Cohen eventually pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax and bank fraud, and lying to Congress — none of which were related to his interactions with Columbus Nova. Intrater told The New York Times in 2019 that his omissions from Mueller’s final report “confirm what I’ve known all along — that I did nothing wrong.”

Cohen later turned to Trump, criticizing him at congressional hearings in 2019 and cooperating with an investigation into his former boss’s business practices.

Vekselberg and his company, Renova, were sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in April 2018 for benefiting from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “global malign activities.” In April 2022, Vekselberg’s $90 million yacht was seized by Spanish authorities at the request of the United States following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Columbus Nova has long been described as closely related to Renova Group, a Russian conglomerate run 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 Vekselberg’s conglomerate was its largest client at the time. However, the company said at the time that it was owned by Americans and was never controlled by Renova Group or Vekselberg.

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

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