Firm run by Andrew Intrater, George Santos donor and cousin of Putin ally Vekselberg, received almost half a million dollars in PPP loans

Viktor Vekselberg and Andrew Intrater

In November a Daily Beast story revealed that Andrew Intrater, who was the long-time money manager to sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, gave $56,100 to committees tied to Representative elect George Devolder-Santos. New reporting shows that one of Intrater’s companies, which had previously invested money for Vekselberg, received two PPP loans totalling almost $500,000.

Andrew Intrater is a donor to Rep-elect George Santos

Republican George Santos was elected in 2022 to represent New York’s 3rd Congressional district (northern Long Island and northern Queens) and is now being investigated by federal and local prosecutors for possible criminal activities during his campaigns, and Brazilian authorities are reviving a 2008 fraud case related to a stolen checkbook.

Media coverage of Santos blew up after he was elected. However local paper The North Shore Leader was first to describe Santos as a fabulist and fake and to raise important questions about his sudden wealth and the source of his campaign funding months before the election.

Andrew Intrater and his wife both donated tens of thousands of dollars to committees and PACs that supported Santos from late 2020 through the 2022 midterms. The money for Santos was contributed by Intrater and his wife personally, not by the companies that they work for, but they listed their occupations/employers on the FEC filings: Intrater listed asset manager at Sparrow Capital and his wife listed homemaker and alternately analyst at Falcon AI. Intrater’s company Sparrow Capital Holdings, incorporated in Delaware in 2004, was previously named Renova U.S. Management LLC doing business as Columbus Nova.

New reporting shows that the early donations overlap with the timeframe from 2020 to 2021 when a company run by Andrew Intrater, which previously invested money for Viktor Vekselberg, received two PPP loans of just under half a million dollars. There is no indication of any wrongdoing related to the donations or the PPP loans, however given Intrater’s significant political contributions and long-term business dealings with sanctioned oligarch Vekselberg, transparency into ongoing financial transactions and business entities is worthy of further scrutiny.

Intrater, Vekselberg, Cohen, Trump and the Mueller investigation

In January 2017 Andrew Intrater and his cousin and close Putin ally Viktor Vekselberg both attended Trump’s inauguration. Mother Jones first reported that Intrater, who had no public history as a major political funder, had donated $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration fund and later contributed $35,000 to a fundraising committee for Trump’s reelection and the Republican National Committee.

Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer of newly elected President Trump, met Intrater and Vekselberg at Trump’s inauguration. The following year Cohen set up a company called Essential Consulting which was used to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels to hide an affair she had with Trump. The Manhattan district attorney’s office has an ongoing criminal investigation into Trump’s role in this payment.

In 2017 Intrater’s firm Columbus Nova paid a consulting fee of $500,000 to Michael Cohen through Essential Consulting. Cohen also received large payments to Essential Consulting’s bank account from Korea Aerospace Industries, AT&T and Novartis — but the payment from Columbus Nova and Intrater’s close link to Veskelberg received significant scrutiny as part of the Mueller investigation.

Andrew Intrater, Columbus Nova, Viktor Vekselberg and Renova Group

Billionaire and close Putin ally Viktor Vekselberg owns Russian energy investment conglomerate Renova Group. In 2018 Vekselberg and Renova Group were sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department along with several other Russian oligarchs and ‘Kremlin elite’ who benefitted from the Putin regime and played a key role in advancing Russia’s malign activities.

Following the sanctions CNN reported that Andrew Intrater’s company Columbus Nova denied any foreign ownership:

Columbus Nova says Vekselberg’s Russian company is its biggest client, but the company itself is fully owned and operated by U.S. citizens and has never had any foreign ownership. It also says the oligarch had no role in the American firm’s decision to hire Cohen.

Despite the denials CNN reported that as late as November 2017 — months after Columbus Nova had paid $500,000 to Michael Cohen — Renova listed Columbus Nova with Andrew Intrater as the CEO on their website as one of Renova’s companies in their group structure.

After Renova and Vekselberg were sanctioned, Intrater rebranded Renova U.S. Management LLC, which did business as Columbus Nova, to Sparrow Capital Holdings LLC.

In 2019 Intrater filed a complaint against the U.S. Treasury and Steven Mnuchin for “violating his Fourth Amendment rights, arguing that their sanctions policy amounted to an unreasonable seizure of American property.” A New York Times story noted:

In all, the Treasury Department has blocked assets valued at more than $250 million related to Mr. Intrater and the firm’s investments… including $10 million lent to three of Prince’s heirs while they await their cut of his estate.

While Intrater has worked to distance himself and his companies from his sanctioned cousin Vekselberg and Renova Group, he has emerged in recent reporting as one of the largest donors to the bizarre representative elect George Santos. And questions linger about whether there are any continued financial links between Andrew Intrater and Vekselberg or Renova, directly or indirectly through associates or related businesses.

Columbus Nova entity renamed Bracken Capital received PPP loans

Columbus Nova had many affiliates (some still active) including Columbus Nova MB LLC (aka Columbus Nova Commercial Mortgage Servicing LLC) which was incorporated in Delaware and North Carolina in 2009 and later renamed Bracken Capital LLC. The North Carolina corporate records show Bracken Capital has a mailing address on Madison Avenue in New York and lists Andrew Intrater as member. Intrater’s long-time attorney Eric Kosta lists employers Bracken Capital LLC / Falcon AI LLC / Sparrow Capital Holdings LLC at the same address.

According to the FederalPay website Bracken Capital LLC at the Madison Avenue address received two Paycheck Protection Program/PPP loans as part of the CARES Act stimulus bill to help small businesses maintain their payrolls and other costs. The two loans for Bracken Capital came from Signature bank and totaled $491,739:

  • $281,739 – April 28, 2020 (forgiven May 21, 2021)
  • $210,000 – Jan 20, 2021 (forgiven Dec 16, 2021)

There is no indication that anything improper was done related to these loans. And it should be noted that while Columbus Nova claimed no foreign ownership, other U.S. companies with foreign ownership have received PPP loans since the program “does not require recipients to be U.S. citizens.”

When Intrater’s company Bracken Capital applied for the second PPP loan in January 2021, he and his wife had personally started making thousands of dollars in donations to the Devolder-Santos for Congress Committee. Bracken Capital had previously invested money for Vekselberg.

An April 2022 Bloomberg story reported that Bracken Capital had facilitated an investment in 2016 for Vekselberg in an off-campus apartment complex for Louisiana State University students.

A sliver of Viktor Vekselberg’s $16.6 billion fortune has been invested for more than five years in Arlington Cottages and Townhomes in Louisiana’s capital city, according to mortgage reports…. Vekselberg is indirectly a minority investor in this property…. The investment occurred in 2016, well before sanctions were levied.

His involvement in Arlington Cottages, which features a large pool surrounded by palm trees and cabanas, was facilitated by investment firm Bracken Capital… Bracken was formerly named Columbus Nova MB and part of New York-based Columbus Nova, which managed money for Vekselberg’s Renova Group.

The article noted that Coastal Ridge Real Estate Partners, which oversees the complex, was working with OFAC — U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control — to ensure it complied with sanctions and was planning to exit the investment.

Andrew Intrater is an investor in Carbyne Ltd

Another notable business Andrew Intrater is involved with as an investor is Israeli company Carbyne Ltd, previously called Reporty, which provides ‘mission critical contact center solutions’ that include cloud-based 911 services throughout the U.S. and worldwide. Carbyne was co-founded by Amir Elichai and Lital Leshem, who previously worked at Black Cube and with Erik Prince at UAE based Frontier Resources Group. Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak was a funder and Chairman at Carbyne. Other notable funders included Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and Jeffrey Epstein.

Intrater is currently listed as a funder of Carbyne Ltd with several dozen investors, including Colibri Technologies, which I previously wrote about here, which co-owned Eitanium Ltd with Erik Prince and others, including executives linked to NSO Group.

In addition to co-investing in Carbyne, Andrew Intrater and Ehud Barak both served as board directors of a company previously owned by Columbus Nova called CIFC (discussed further below).

In prior years Intrater and Columbus Nova invested and worked with a long list of companies including Fifth Dimension (closed in 2018), Selway Capital, Caylume Technologies, Tyme Technologies (through Cova Funding), and others — many with interesting names and affiliations worthy of further research.

Other Columbus Nova, Vekselberg, Renova, Russia links

While the media attention on Columbus Nova focused almost exclusively on Andrew Intrater, research on another executive shows that the network of links to Vekselberg or his close associates extends beyond Intrater and Columbus Nova. While there is no indication of any wrong-doing or any connection to sanctions violations, it is important to continue providing transparency on these networks that link to people with ties to the Kremlin.

Amos Beason was CEO of Columbus Nova Real Estate Acquisition Group from 2006 to 2015 and was Partner/Advisor at Bracken Capital from 2015 to 2018. Since 2018 Beason’s LinkedIn page shows he has been Managing Member and Managing Director of Seward Capital.

Amos Beason is also listed in OpenCorporates as agent for Signet FFF US Asset Management LLC, incorporated in North Carolina in 2021. An April 2021 group overview for Signet FFF Holding shows Beason as a Managing Director. An investment advisor report for Seward Capital lists an FFF fund with $70,000,000 in assets, however the registration status is ‘terminated’ as of 10/22/2021. There is no indication that the fund is active, yet information on Signet FFF executives shows significant links to Russia and one senior executive who worked for many years with Viktor Vekselberg.

The Signet FFF overview describes the asset management company which was founded in 1993 by Robert Marquardt and originally called Signet Capital Management Ltd. In 2015 Signet merged with Spectrum Partners founded by Israeli entrepreneur Dmitry Evenko. In 2016 a controlling stake in Signet was bought by FFF AM and they became Signet FFF with offices in the U.K., Luxembourg, Switzerland, U.S., Cyprus and the Russian Federation. Many Signet executives have deep ties to Russia — and Senior Partner Josef (aka Iosef) Bakaleynik has a long history working with Viktor Vekselberg.

Bakaleynik was previously Vice President at ТNК and SUAL Holding, a company co-owned by Viktor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik. From 2008 to 2014 Bakaleynik was advisor to Renova Management Chairman Vekselberg and Bakaleynik was Chairman of the Board of Renova US Holdings Ltd., a subsidiary of the Renova Group. Bakaleynik was Chairman and CEO of Swiss company Zueblin Immobilien until 2019, where Viktor Vekselberg through Lamesa Holding SA is the largest shareholder and owns 41%.

Bakaleynik was also chairman of CIFC Corp. where Andrew Intrater served as a director. A story in Forbes described CIFC as one of Columbus Nova’s biggest assets:

For years, one of Columbus Nova’s biggest assets was its controlling stake in CIFC, a publicly traded New York firm that managed credit investments. Intrater and Lipari were both on CIFC’s board together with Paolo Amato, an executive at Vekselberg’s Renova, and former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak. Columbus Nova used to advertise managing $15 billion, but most of it appeared to be the debt securities managed by CIFC. Columbus Nova sold CIFC to a firm funded by Qatar’s royal family for $333 million in 2016.

Another interesting executive with deep ties to Russia is involved in Signet’s UK business. Signet Capital Management in the U.K. lists Geoffrey Piers Hemy (aka Piers Hemy) as the person with significant control. Hemy was a director of Altimo Holdings, part of Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group, from 2004 to 2014. He was a director of Centreinvest Capital Partners incorporated in Cyprus in 2007 and dissolved in 2016, with other officers including Igor Tsukanov, a Russian banker who partnered with Gene Chayevsky in Biolink Technologies and who is married to former Rosneft/Igor Sechin advisor Natalia Tsukanov. Hemy was a director of Centreinvest Advisors with Dan Rapoport who sold his D.C. home to Ivanka and Jared Kushner and later passed away in 2022. Hemy was mentioned as a director of GF Financial Corporation a subsidiary of Grand Financial Foundation in Liechtenstein, in a lawsuit involving Aldamisa Entertainment LLC related to financing of Jon Favreau’s film “Chef.” Per an old SEC filing that lists Hemy as Director Grand Financial Holding, the ultimate owner is Gleb Fetisov, a Russian billionaire and film producer.

Intrater made unusually large donations to the Trump inauguration and has continued to make significant campaign donations to the GOP and the campaign of George Devolder-Santos. Meanwhile his firm Columbus Nova has been renamed and a senior colleague formed a new company and continued to work with a close associate of Vekselberg and colleagues linked to other Russian oligarchs.

As noted throughout, there is no indication of any wrongdoing and the information is presented to provide transparency on financial and business activities related to Intrater, Columbus Nova and Vekselberg.


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