Federal and state investigators probe Santos’ role in luxury yacht sale


Federal and state investigators are probing the Republican congressman. george santosHe played a role in the sale of a $19 million yacht involving two of his wealthy benefactors, according to a law enforcement official.

Law enforcement’s interest in the sale, first initiated by New York Times, underscoring the far-reaching implications of an investigation into the financial well-being of the struggling member of Congress.Santos previously told traffic light He earns a referral fee for facilitating such deals.

How Santos — who has repeatedly lied about his resume and background — got the money to fund his House campaign has been one of the central questions surrounding the Long Island congressman. His victory last year helped give Republicans a slim majority in the Senate. But Santos has been embroiled in controversy before taking office and has been the subject of state and federal investigations into his finances, as well as a House ethics committee probe.

Santos has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. On Wednesday, his attorney, Joe Murray, said he could not comment on the substance of any charges against his client, but said: “I’m a little tired of all these investigations being leaked to the public.”

“This compromises the integrity of the investigation,” Murray said.

Officials with the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York declined to comment.

The New York Times reported that prosecutors and federal agents recently sought to question the yacht’s owner, New York car dealer Raymond Tantillo, about its purchases and his interactions with Santos, including political donations.

Tantilho bought the boat from Miami-based Republican donor Mela Ruiz, and Santos negotiated the payment and helped with the logistics, according to the Times.

Federal records show that Ruiz and Tantillo both contributed to Santos’ congressional campaign. There is no indication that any of them acted inappropriately.

“This is obviously a very thorough, exhaustive investigation that is ongoing,” Tantillo’s attorney, Robert Curtis Gottlieb, told CNN on Wednesday. “I have every reason to believe that Mr. Tantillo will not be charged in connection with boats, campaign contributions or anything else under the sun because he has done absolutely nothing wrong.”

He declined to provide further details.

CNN also reached out to Ruiz and her husband, John H. Ruiz, who was not listed among Santos’ political donors. The Times described John Ruiz as the previous owner of the ship.

John Ruiz’s lawyer, Kristin Lugo, said in a statement to the Times that he “had never done anything with him other than to have publicly disclosed that he didn’t know who George Santos was and never campaigned for him.” any business.”

One of the biggest questions about Santos centers on financial success, which has allowed the Republican to report $705,000 in personal loans to help his 2022 campaign. In Santos’ previous unsuccessful 2020 congressional bid, his personal financial disclosure form did not list any assets and a salary of $55,000.

He said he made his money through a company he founded called the Devolder Organization, but he does not list Devolder’s clients on his federal financial disclosures.

daily beast Entities related to Ruiz and Tantillo were previously described as clients of the firm.

In an interview with Semafor in December, Santos attempted to explain the source of his newfound wealth, describing Devolder as working in the capital introduction business. This includes “deal building” and “professional advice” for “high-net-worth individuals,” he said.

Santos told the publication that he may act as an intermediary between people looking to sell planes or ships, saying he quickly secured “multi-million dollar contracts” within months of setting up the company.

“If you’re looking at a $20 million yacht, my referral fee could be between $200,000 and $400,000,” he said at the time.

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