US-Mexico Wall: Trump’s Former Aide, Steve Bannon Arrested, Charged Over $25m Fraud
US authorities have arrested President Donald Trump’s former top adviser, Steve Bannon on Thursday and charged him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud of more than $25m.
Federal prosecutors accused him and three others of defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors over fundraising to build a wall on the US border with Mexico.
Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign advocated for expansion of the Mexico–United States barrier by constructing of a much larger border wall.
In January 2017, Trump signed Executive Order 13767, which formally directed the U.S. government to begin attempting wall construction along the border using existing federal funding.
The online crowdfunding campaign known as “We Build the Wall” raised more than $25 million, prosecutors said, which the defendants said would be used on construction but was instead used for their own profit.
The donors thought the money would go towards helping to build a border wall, according to federal prosecutors in Manhattan.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Bannon, along with three others;
Orchestrated a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of donors in connection with the online crowdfunding campaign, which raised more than $25m (£19m).
The charges against the suspects were contained in an indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court.
According to the indictment, Bannon promised that 100% of the money donated would be used for the project, but the defendants allegedly used hundreds of thousands of dollars in a manner inconsistent with the organisation’s public representations.
They allegedly faked invoices and sham ‘vendor’ arrangements in a bid to hide what was really happening, the indictment added.
The ‘We Build The Wall’ initiative originally promoted a project for three miles of fences posts in South Texas, a project that was built and largely funded by one Fisher Industries.
The company, which has received around $2bn (£1.5bn) in funding for wall contracts, did not respond to calls for comment.
Bannon was appointed chief executive of US President Trump’s successful presidential campaign in 2016, leaving his role at conservative website Breitbart News to join the campaign.
He became chief strategist for Trump after his inauguration, but Bannon clashed with others in the White House and was pushed out in August 2017.