Rep. George Santos (R-NY) long claimed a former Donald Trump associate—and cash handler for a notorious Russian oligarch—was just a businessman who donated to his campaign. But, as with most things involving Santos, things were not what they seemed.
Santos’ relationship with Andrew Intrater, a businessman who donated thousands of dollars to Santos’ campaign committee and those linked to him, now appears to have extended to his work with Harbor City Capital, an investment firm federal investigators labeled a Ponzi scheme. Far from jut a guy who donated to Santos’ campaign, Intrater also had a substantial business relationship with Santos, according to a court filing obtained by The Washington Post, putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into Harbor City Capital.
Santos even boasted about their relationship in a 2020 meeting to discuss funding for a residential building in New York. At the time, Intrater ran the investment firm Columbus Nova, whose main client was Intrater’s cousin: sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, as The Daily Beast first reported.
“You might know who they are,” Santos said in a company meeting, according to audio obtained by The Washington Post. “They’ve made the news on several occasions. They were heavily involved with the Russia probe. Unjustified.”
There is not yet a direct financial or personal link between Santos and Vekselberg, who was sanctioned in 2018 for his ties to Vladimir Putin. Last year, the U.S. ordered the seizure of Vekselberg’s $90 million yacht in the wake of the war in Ukraine. But the closeness between Vekselberg and his cousin indicates Santos seemed to deem dealing with scrutinized figures as permissible.
Intrater came under the eye of special counsel Robert Mueller during the Russia investigation, primarily due to his interactions with Trump fixer Michael Cohen. Intrater donated $250,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee, and he attended a 2017 fundraiser for Trump’s reelection as Cohen’s guest. Columbus Nova also hired Cohen to scout out new investors.