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Ex-Trump adviser Steve Bannon charged with fraud over Mexico wall funds

Bannon was arrested in the early hours of Thursday on a 150-foot yacht called the Lady May in Connecticut by agents from the US Postal Inspection Service, which investigates fraud cases.

SNS | New Delhi |

US President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon was arrested on Thursday on charges that he and three others ripped off donors to an online fundraising scheme to build a southern border wall, making him the latest in a long list of Trump associates to be indicted or charged.

Bannon received more than $1 million, at least some of which he used to cover personal expenses, it alleged.

“As alleged, the defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction,” Xinhua news agency quoted US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss as saying in the statement.

Bannon was arrested in the early hours of Thursday on a 150-foot yacht called the Lady May in Connecticut by agents from the US Postal Inspection Service, which investigates fraud cases.

The other three defendants were also arrested on Thursday morning.

In respond to Bannon’s arrest, Trump said he felt “very badly” about it, the BBC reported.

He also said he had had no involvement with “We Build the Wall”.

Bannon, who has been released on bail, was a key architect of Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory. His right-wing anti-immigration ideology fuelled Trump’s “America First” campaign.

According to the indictment, Bannon promised that 100% of the donated money would be used for the project, but the defendants collectively used hundreds of thousands of dollars in a manner inconsistent with the organisation’s public representations.

Bannon is among a stunning list of former Trump associates who have found themselves under indictment or in jail, including his former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, and his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

(With inputs from agency)