In a 2020 interview with the Metropolitan Republican Club, Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) provided details about his employment at an alleged “ponzi scheme.” The comments, which have received little notice, shed light on a period that is central to questions about Santos’ purported personal fortune. The interview also includes other examples of Santos’ shifting narrative and questionable backstory.
The conversation took place during Santos’ first run for Congress in 2020, which was ultimately unsuccessful. During the interview, Santos indicated he had an important role at Harbor City, a firm that was described as “a classic Ponzi scheme” in an April 2021 complaint filed in a Florida court by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“I manage all of our fixed-income assets with arbitrage here in New York,” Santos said. “I am actually Harbor City Capital’s head guy for New York City.”
Santos, whose hiring was announced by Harbor City in July 2020, claimed in the interview that he took a leave of absence the following month to run for office while remaining employed by the firm.
“I still actually — up until Aug. 1 when I initiated my leave of absence — I’m the regional director for Harbor City Capital. We’re a fixed-income shop. We are top — we’re within the Fortune 500 private equity firms globally,” Santos said.
Despite Santos’ claims, Harbor City has not been listed in the Fortune 500. Santos, who has said he was unaware of any wrongdoing at the firm, was not named in the SEC complaint against Harbor City. That case is still ongoing and there are indications there is also a criminal investigation into the business.
Santos and the Metropolitan Republican Club, which conducted the interview, did not respond to requests for comment.
Santos has claimed he left Harbor City in March 2021, the month before the SEC complaint was filed. However, he went on to create another company that has extensive links to Harbor City executives. That firm, the Devolder Organization, is central to Santos’ evolving explanation for a surge in income he claims to have enjoyed over the past two years. The newfound wealth came as Santos loaned his second congressional campaign over $500,000 in the months before his victory.
During his conversation with the GOP club, Santos also reiterated the claims about working on Wall Street that he admitted to “embellishing” in recent days following a New York Times exposé that debunked his tales about working for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.
However, in the 2020 interview, Santos boasted of working with another blue chip investment firm: J.P. Morgan.
“I’ve done my tour, I’d say, of due diligence through Wall Street, Goldman, J.P. Morgan, so on and so forth,” Santos said. “I’m still currently employed, just on leave so I can pursue the race.”
J.P. Morgan did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether they have any record of Santos working at the firm.
Along with sharing embellishments about Harbor City and his resume, Santos made claims about his family’s European ancestry and escape from “religious persecution” that have since been disproved.
“My mother’s family is originally — if we’re going back into the early 1900s — Ukraine and then they resettled themselves in Belgium due to religious persecution,” said Santos. “Then, in the ‘40s, religious persecution once again ran them out of Belgium and, you know, we’ve become honorary Brazilians.”
Genealogy records unearthed by CNN indicate Santos’ maternal grandparents were from Brazil. He has since said he only meant to suggest he was “Jew-ish” with his stories of familial escape from persecution in Europe.
After making his series of questionable claims in the interview — which, as of this writing has less than 100 views on YouTube — Santos cast his fantastical story as proof of this country’s greatness.
“If there’s any proof that the American dream was attainable: ‘Hi,’” Santos said. “I’m right here.”