George Santos: New Details Link New York Congressman to Andrew Intrater, Cousin of Sanctioned Russian Oligarch


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

Andrew Intrater and his wife each gave the maximum amount of $5,800 to Santos’ main campaign committee and tens of thousands more since 2020 to committees affiliated with him, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Intrater’s cousin is Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who has been sanctioned by the US government for his role in the Russian energy industry.

The relationship between Santos and Intrater extends beyond campaign contributions, according to a private statement from Santos in 2020 and a court filing a lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against a Florida-based investment firm, Harbor City Capital, the following year. where Santos worked for over a year.

Taken together, the evidence suggests that Santos may have had a business relationship with Intrater, as Santos first entered politics in 2020. , who was 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 congressman, whose election to Long Island last year helped the GOP secure its slim majority in the House, has apologized for what he called “resume embellishment” while rejecting calls for his resignation. He is being investigated by prosecutors in New York and Rio de Janeiro.

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

Although Intrater is a US citizen, his company, the investment firm Columbus Nova, has historically had extensive ties to the business interests of his Russian cousin. 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.

Intrater’s 2016 and 2017 interactions with Michael Cohen, who at the time worked as an attorney for Donald Trump, were examined during Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties between Trump and the Kremlin.

Intrater’s company paid the attorney and self-proclaimed Trump fixer to identify deals for his company, and court records show they exchanged hundreds of texts and phone calls. Neither Intrater nor Vekselberg were charged with wrongdoing in Mueller’s investigation.

In 2020, when Santos was tasked by Harbor City to locate investors in New York, he claimed at a meeting in Harbor City over Zoom that Intrater’s investment firm, Columbus Nova, was a “client” of his, according to footage obtained by The Washington After.

He made the remark while discussing the difficulties of investing in residential real estate, particularly for investors who put money into the 440-foot tower at 432 Park Avenue in Manhattan, which was for a time the world’s tallest residential building. Intrater did not respond to a question about whether he or Columbus Nova was involved in the project.

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

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

Santos did not respond to a text asking for comment. Intrater did not respond to an email question about whether his company was Santos’ client, as alleged, or about the down payment at Harbor City.

The congressman faked substantial aspects of his work experience. And at the Harbor City Zoom meetings reviewed by The Post, he talked about dealings with other prominent investors or money organizations that those entities denied had taken place.

But Harbor City managed to secure a $625,000 deposit from a Mississippi-registered company that Intrater identifies as its sole officer, according to a piece of evidence included in the SEC’s indictment against Harbor City. The alleged deposit, which is undated, is included in a chart 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. Registration documents list no other officers or directors and identify Intrater’s address as the same address Columbus Nova used on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Columbus Nova is now known as Sparrow Capital.

In the SEC action, which started in April 2021, regulators accused Harbor City and its founder of running a “classic Ponzi scheme” — promising investors reliable profits and paying millions instead.

The SEC complaint did not name Santos, who has denied knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing, even though he was told by a potential investor that the company was using a fraudulent banking document, as The Post previously reported.

Harbor City founder JP Maroney has denied the SEC’s allegations, which have been brought before federal court in Florida. The company itself has not responded in court. Maroney did not respond to a text about Intrater’s alleged deposit from the company. The exhibit identifying Intrater’s alleged company deposit does not address its purpose and does not suggest that Intrater had knowledge of alleged misconduct in Harbor City.

After Harbor City assets were frozen and with help from a former Harbor City employee, Santos founded a company in 2021, the Devolder Organization, which paid him at least $3.5 million over the next two years, according to company records and financial statements. Florida disclosure. forms that he has submitted as a candidate. Santos lent his campaign more than $700,000 but reported no earnings from Harbor City, despite not being paid by the company until April 2021.

Details of Santos’ tenure at Harbor City were confirmed by a court-appointed attorney who oversaw the liquidation of the company’s assets.

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

Intrater donated $250,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee, according to campaign finance records, and attended the 2017 inaugural meeting along with Vekselberg. The Washington Post reports that the two men ran into Cohen at the inauguration. Not long afterward, Columbus began paying Nova Cohen as part of a contract to solicit new investors for the company, The Post reported. Court records show that the payments totaled $583,000.

Court records also show that between November 2016 and November 2017, Cohen and Intrater exchanged more than 1,000 phone calls and text messages. Intrater donated $35,000 to attend a fundraiser for Trump’s 2017 reelection at Cohen’s invitation, The Post reports.

Federal officials questioned both Intrater and Vekselberg during the investigation, interviewing the latter after his private jet 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 banking fraud, and lying to Congress — matters unrelated to his interactions with Columbus Nova. Intrater 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 at a 2019 congressional hearing and cooperating in investigations into his former boss’s business practices.

Vekselberg and his company, Renova, were sanctioned by the Treasury Department in April 2018 for profiting from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “malicious activities around the world.” In April 2022, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Vekselberg’s $90 million yacht was seized by 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 late 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 the largest customer 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.

Leave a Comment