A cousin of a sanctioned Russian oligarch has deep ties to disgraced Long Island Rep. George Santos, whose murky campaign financing is under investigation by a House ethics committee and federal prosecutors.
Andrew Intrater, 60, gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to a company linked to the sketchy congressman while also heavily contributing to Santos’ campaigns for office, according to a new report.
Intrater and his wife each made a maximum contribution of $5,800 to Santos’ 2022 House campaign, The Washington Post reported Monday. The couple also gave tens of thousands of additional dollars to committees linked to the Republican — who admitted to The Post that he fabricated his personal and professional biography — since 2020, according to the outlet.
Intrater is an American citizen and the cousin of Russian billionaire energy investor Viktor Vekselberg, who was sanctioned by the US in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Over the summer, authorities raided Vekselberg’s homes in Manhattan and the Hamptons, seized a $90 million yacht and froze his assets.
A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission reportedly showed that Intrater put hundreds of thousands of dollars into Harbor City Capital, the Florida-based investment firm where Santos worked for more than a year — and that is under investigation for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme.
Intrater’s investment firm Columbus Nova is closely tied to Vekselberg, whose conglomerate was the business’ largest client as recently as 2018, when he was sanctioned by the Treasury Department, according to the Washington Post.
Intrater’s 2016 and 2017 contacts with former Donald Trump lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen were investigated during Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged links between the former president’s campaign and the Kremlin, but the special counsel did not accuse Intrater of impropriety.
Intrater and Cohen — who pleaded guilty in 2018 to tax evasion and campaign finance law violations — exchanged hundreds of texts and calls, and the financier’s company paid Cohen to flag business deals, records examined by the outlet showed.
Santos, 34, also said that Columbus Nova was a “client” of his during a Harbor City Zoom call in 2020, when the aspiring politician was tasked with finding New York investors, the outlet reported.
Santos alluded to Columbus Nova while discussing investors into the mega-tall residential skyscraper at 432 Park Avenue.
“You might know who they are,” Santos reportedly told his colleagues on the Zoom call. “They’ve made the news on several occasions. They were heavily involved with the Russia probe. Unjustified.”
“But they’re a real estate company,” he added. “They’re legitimate.”
It is unclear if Intrater or his company ever actually invested in the Billionaires’ Row project. However Harbor City did receive an undated $625,000 deposit from a Mississippi company that identified Intrater as its lone officer, an SEC complaint against the company reportedly showed.
The SEC inquiry, which accuses Santos’ old company of running a “classic Ponzi scheme,” did not name the freshman congressman, whose fraud allegations are being probed by prosecutors in New York, Washington and Brazil.
However, Santos had been warned by a potential investor that his former firm was doctoring bank documents, according to the newspaper.
The lawmaker has remained defiant amid a chorus of calls for his resignation. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer said Sunday that his fellow Republican would be expelled from Congress if found guilty of violating campaign finance regulations.
I don’t approve of how he made his way to Congress. And I haven’t even introduced myself to him, because it’s pretty despicable, the lies that he told,” Comer (R-Ky.) told CNN’s “State of the Union”. “But, at the end of the day, it’s not up to me or any other member of Congress to determine whether he could be kicked out for lying.”