Steve Bannon accused of fraud on border wall
Steve Bannon, former adviser to President Donald Trump, and three others were arrested and shave accused of fraud on a crowdfunding wall along the US-Mexico . The “We Build the Wall” campaign has raised over $ 25 million to build the wall proposed by President Donald Trump. But prosecutors say Brian Kolfage, founder of Bannon, We Build the Wall, and their associates Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on personal expenses.
The recently unsealed case alleges that Bannon and others have broken their repeated promises to put "100% of donations up the wall." The group secretly arranged private payments through a non-profit organization, giving Kolfage $ 100,000 within months of starting the fundraiser. While asserting that the funds wereIf they went to social media spending, they allegedly embezzled $ 350,000 from Kolfage - money Kolfage allegedly used to buy a boat (apparently called a "Warfighter), a luxury SUV, and cosmetic surgery.
Bannon allegedly used his non-profit organization to launch a fraud campaign
The nonprofit apparently received a total of $ 1 million, and the other defendants spent money on hotels personal, travel and credit card debt repayment. Journalist Joshua Benton notes that the deion of the nonprofit is Citizens of the American Republic, an organization founded by Bannon that promotes "economic nationalism and American sovereignty." The scheme would have ceased in October apsoon as the group became aware of a criminal investigation.
"While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, founder and public face of We Build the Wall, will not be paid a dime, the defendants have secretly planned to pass on hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle, said US lawyer Audrey Strauss. Bannon and the others are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit electronic fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
We Build the Wall has been a hugely successful online fundraising effort, but it was mired in legal and practical issues after its launch in 2018. Investigators from Florida opened another criminal investigation last August, possibly linked to another incident where board member Kris Kobach allegedly used a We Build the Wall mailing list for collection of funds. The nonprofit reportedly failed to obtain legal permissions for his privately built wall segments and he helped build a 3 mile fence which began showing signs of erosion within months, which led Trump to say the project was "done only to make me look bad. Kobach previously claimed to have obtained " blessing "for We Build the Wall.
Badolato a worked with Bannon for years, at one point sharing an address with the former advisor. Among other projects, they invested in a nasal spray company in Florida called SinoFresh; the founder of the company later accused them of manipulating the finances of the company business and destroy them in a legal battle.