Indicted Chinese billionaire tycoon Guo Wengui is reportedly secretly bankrolling George Santos’s bail, as George Santos has developed an interest in Guo’s own bail problems.
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A member of Congress isn’t in jail and we don’t know why.
Last month, federal prosecutors in New York brought a 13-count indictment against Rep. George Santos, a Republican who represents part of Long Island.
According to charging documents, Santos personally stole donations to his campaign operation, illegally took pandemic employment funds, and lied to Congress on financial forms.
Instead of keeping Santos in jail until his criminal trial, a judge allowed him to be released on a $500,000 bond.
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Three people, under the judge’s terms, would guarantee that bail amount — meaning they’d be on the hook for all that cash if Santos broke his bond conditions by failing to show up in court or traveling outside of New York and Washington, DC.
In other words, a member of a closely-divided House of Representatives owes his freedom to three people.
Who are they? Their identities, bizarrely, remain secret.
But I have a pretty good theory.
There’s a very strong chance that one person putting up the money — directly or indirectly — is the jailed exiled Chinese billionaire tycoon Guo Wengui.
Even Ghislaine Maxwell and SBF didn’t get this kind of secrecy
Santos certainly doesn’t want us to know who these bond sponsors are. Speaking to members of the media outside the federal court in Central Islip after he entered his not-guilty plea, the congressman said we would “never” find out the identities of the three sureties.
“That is information you’ll never get,” he said. “Because your intention is to go harass them and make their life miserable. You’re not getting that.”
In court proceedings, the identities of the sponsors have been shrouded in extraordinary secrecy.
The bond documents, which are supposed to include their names, have not been publicly filed. The court held a secret hearing with the sureties, according to a filing from the New York Times. We don’t even know the explanation from prosecutors and Santos’s defense attorneys behind any arguments to keep the documents sealed. No indication of sealed documents or hearings even appear on the public docket.
Insider — along with a group of other news organizations — have asked US District Judge Joanna Seybert, who is now overseeing the case, to unseal all records related to the bond sponsors (as has the Times, in a separate application). The decision to keep these documents sealed, Jeremy A. Chase and Alexandra Settelmayer at the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP wrote in the filing, is totally out of step with the public’s presumption of access to judicial documents. It’s particularly important in a case like this, where Santos is an elected official and must make financial disclosures to Congress.
“Rep. Santos has been criminally charged with fraud that directly relates to his role as an elected official in Congress, eroding public confidence in our government institutions and political leaders,” they wrote. “Given Rep. Santos’ role as a public servant, access to the identity of the bond sureties will bolster trust in the judicial process here.”
There’s little precedent for this secrecy. Earlier this year, lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, fought to keep the identities of the two sponsors of his mammoth $250 million bond package under seal. The arguments in that case, at least, were filed on the public docket — Bankman-Fried’s lawyers were concerned they’d be harassed by members of the media and the public.
The judge overseeing his case sided with Insider and other media organizations and unsealed bond records, revealing their identities. (Bankman-Fried’s bond guarantors are Larry Kramer and Andreas Paepcke — both have ties to Stanford University, which employs his parents.)
“The non-parental bail sureties have entered voluntarily into a highly publicized criminal proceeding by signing the individual bonds,” US District Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in the decision.
Even the identities of the people who offered to post bail for Ghislaine Maxwell, the associate of Jeffrey Epstein who was ultimately convicted of trafficking girls to him for sex, were made public in court documents.
“The unique stigma of association with Epstein, Maxwell, and their ring of pedophilia, sexual abuse of minors, and sex trafficking no doubt animated the Court’s decision to permit the names of those proposing to post her bail — which was ultimately denied — to be kept a secret,” lawyers for media organizations wrote in the filing for the Santos case.
“None of these concerns are present here. While Rep. Santos is accused of serious financial crimes, a public association with him does not carry nearly the same stigma as with the Jeffrey Epstein child sex trafficking scandal.”
The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office opened an investigation on Santos George after he was caught lying on his resume by fabricating his past.