Bannon-Linked Border Group Seeks to Lift U.S. Freeze on Funds

A foundation backed by former presidential adviser Stephen Bannon has asked a judge to lift a freeze on its bank accounts put in place after Bannon and three others were indicted for fraud and money laundering in connection with funding the private construction of a U.S. border wall.

Prosecutors secretly obtained approval from a judge to freeze three bank accounts held by We Build the Wall Inc. after the arrests, the government said in a public court filing Tuesday. The defendants were accused of pilfering foundation funds for personal use after promising donors their contributions would be used exclusively to build a wall on the southern border with Mexico.

We Build the Wall received $25 million in donations, though it is not clear how much remains in the accounts. The government said the money will be subject to seizure if the defendants are convicted, so it argued the cash should remain frozen.

The public filing by prosecutors on Tuesday was a response to a secret request to unfreeze the funds by Kris Kobach, a former Kansas secretary of state and state Republican Party chairman who is acting as the lawyer for We Build the Wall’s lawyer.

Prosecutors said Kobach is seeking a release of the funds so he can pay himself for work performed on behalf of the foundation. A trial is scheduled for next spring.

The case is U.S. v Kolfage, 20-cr-412, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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