Steve Bannon charged with money laundering and conspiracy

Steve Bannon, a long-time ally of former US President Donald Trump, has been indicted on charges of money laundering, fraud, and conspiracy.

Mr. Bannon, 68, is accused of misleading fundraising donors in order to assist Mr. Trump in his policy aim of building a wall along the US-Mexico border.

Prosecutors in New York allege that he misled donors and diverted monies to two cronies.

He is being pursued, according to the former White House senior strategist. Mr. Bannon surrendered to police in New York state on Thursday after a grand jury unveiled six felony charges against him.

As he marched handcuffed past reporters into court, the right-wing podcaster pledged to fight back.

“This is what happens when a dictatorship is dying,” he explained. “They’ll never be able to silence me without first murdering me.”

 Mr. Bannon, according to the indictment, told donors he was “sort of a volunteer” for the We Build the Wall non-profit, which gathered more than $25 million (£22 million) online from thousands of people.

Despite his pledge that “not a dime” would be pocketed by him or others, Mr. Bannon is said to have funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to two friends.

Federal authorities indicted Mr. Bannon and two other persons, Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato, in 2020. While Mr. Kolfage and Mr. Badolato pled guilty to the charges, Mr. Bannon was granted a presidential pardon on Mr. Trump’s final day in office last year, and the matter was therefore abandoned.

Pardons, on the other hand, only apply to federal felonies, while Mr. Bannon faced comparable charges in New York state.

“Stephen Bannon was the mastermind behind a multi-million dollar operation to mislead thousands of donors across the country, including hundreds of Manhattan residents.” district attorney Alvin Bragg, who led the probe, said in a statement on Thursday.

Steve Bannon is Arrested and Charged With Fraud in 'We Build the Wall'  Campaign - The New York Times
Stephen K. Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, left Federal District Court in Manhattan on Thursday afternoon.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose office also worked on the case, added that Mr. Bannon had taken “advantage of his donors’ political views to secure millions of dollars which he then misappropriated”.

According to Ms. James, “powerful political interests” who “think they are above the law” must be held accountable. Democrats Mr. Bragg and Ms. James have been investigating Mr. Trump and his business.

When he turned himself in on Thursday morning, Mr. Bannon described the charge as “nothing more than a partisan political weaponization of the criminal justice system.”

He stated that the new charges against him were “all about 60 days,” an apparent reference to the November midterm elections.

Separately, Mr. Bannon was found guilty of contempt of US Congress in July after refusing to appear before the committee investigating the Capitol riots last year.

In that scenario, he will be sentenced next month and faces up to two years in prison.