Former Trump adviser Bannon pleads not guilty to fraud over Mexico wall


Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist of President Donald Trump, has been arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The US Department of Justice said the charge relates to We Build The Wall, a fundraising campaign to support the building of a border wall between the US and Mexico.

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 that raised more than $25m (£19m).

US President Donald Trump (L) congratulates Senior Counselor to the President Stephen Bannon during the swearing-in of senior staff in the East Room of the White House on January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

2017: Bannon leaves the White House

A spokeswoman for Bannon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The charges 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.

The trio allegedly faked invoices and sham “vendor” arrangements in a bid to hide what was really happening, the indictment added.

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We Build The Wall originally promoted a project for three miles of fences posts in South Texas, a project that was built and largely funded by Fisher Industries.

The company, which has received around $2bn (£1.5bn) in funding for wall contracts, did not respond to calls for comment.

2018: Trump and Bannon declare war on each other

Mr Trump recently criticised that section of the wall after it displayed signs of erosion, saying it was “only done to make me look bad,” even though it was built by his supporters.

Bannon was appointed chief executive of Mr Trump’s successful presidential campaign in 2016, leaving his role at conservative website Breitbart News to join the campaign.

He became chief strategist for Mr Trump after his inauguration, but Bannon clashed with others in the White House and was pushed out in August 2017.

Bannon returned to Breitbart, but left again the following year after being quoted in Michael Wolff’s explosive book, Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House.

He was quoted questioning his former boss’ mental stability and claimed those close to the president described him as a “moron, an idiot”.

Bannon later expressed “regret” over his place in the book.

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