Brazilian prosecutors reinstating fraud charges against Rep. George Santos, U.S. investigating FEC expenditures
Brazil authorities are reportedly planning on formally reopening the investigation on Friday, and are seeking assistance from the U.S. Justice Department, which is also investigating Santos in its Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office for a separate incident of loans made to his congressional campaign
January 3, 2023 1:05pm
Updated: January 3, 2023 1:05pm
Prosecutors in Brazil are preparing to reinstate fraud charges against newly elected Rep. George Santos, according to reports from CNN which spoke to representatives in the Rio de Janeiro office.
Santos was sworn in today as a freshman representative along with the rest of the 118th Congress under scrutiny after it was learned he lied about his professional background and also having Jewish Ukrainian relatives who suffered in the Nazi Holocaust.
The allegations created an uproar amid both sides of the aisle, raising concerns from both Democrats and Republicans alike with some even suggesting the newly elected representative relinquish his position since his victory was appears to have been at least partially achieved under false pretenses.
That firestorm traveled throughout the Western Hemisphere and evoked a response from Brazilian prosecutors only hours after newly elected leftist Workers’ Party leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sworn in on Sunday.
Prosecutors are reportedly seeking a “formal response” from the New York based U.S. Congressman in relation to accusations about a stolen checkbook in 2008, and was formally charged by a Brazilian court in 2011.
The original Brazilian law enforcement investigation was suspended after Santos’ summons went unanswered in 2013 and authorities subsequently lost track of the American.
Brazil authorities are reportedly planning on formally reopening the investigation on Friday, and are seeking assistance from the U.S. Justice Department, which is also investigating Santos in its Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office for a separate incident of loans made to his congressional campaign.
That incident is also being probed by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office in New York.
In the Brazil case, prosecutors’ decision to reinstate charges was first reported on Monday by The New York Times. That newspaper was also the first to break that Santos had misled voters about his personal and professional backgrounds.
The Times reported that the incident originated at a Brazilian clothing boutique in Niterói, a small town outside Rio de Janeiro, where Santos wrote a check for about $700 with a stolen checkbook and using the false name.
Santos has denied he was charged in Brazil and told the New York Post, “I am not a criminal here, not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world. Absolutely not. That didn’t happen.
Among the many parts of his story that have been brought into question are claims his grandparents were Jewish Ukrainians who fled the Holocaust, that his parents had to withdraw him from a NYC private school when their real estate investments lost money, and that he had professional affiliations with Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.
He later admitted to lying about his academic record at New York University Baruch College.
If the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Nassau County District Attorney’s Office proceeds to charge Santos’ for any financial misappropriations with the loans made to his campaigns, the Brazilian check incident will most likely be the least of his concerns.
Reports filed by Santos’ with the Federal Election Commission have questionable expenditures “including exorbitant expenses on air travel and hotels, as well as a number of expenses one penny below the dollar figure above which the FEC requires campaigns to keep receipts,” CNN reported.
The cable news network spoke to Joe Murray, an attorney for Santos, who said those reports were unfounded.
“Campaign expenditures for staff members including travel, lodging, and meals are normal expenses of any competent campaign. The suggestion that the Santos campaign engaged in any unlawful spending of campaign funds is irresponsible, at best,” Murray told CNN on Saturday.