The longtime ally and onetime top strategist to former US President Donald Trump has allegedly deceived donors to an effort to help Trump build a wall along the US-Mexico border.
Donald Trump's former advisor Steve Bannon has been charged with fraud over a scheme that misappropriated millions of dollars donated for the construction of a wall between the United States and Mexico.
Bannon, 68, a popular ideologue who was closely involved in Trump's rise to the American presidency, turned himself in earlier on Friday to face the charges in New York. Standing outside the Manhattan prosecutor's office, he accused the judiciary of "persecuting" him.
Bannon and a nonprofit organisation called We Build The Wall were charged with money laundering, conspiracy and fraud over what prosecutors said was a year-long fundraising scheme that netted more than $15 million from donors based on false promises.
"It is a crime to turn a profit by lying to donors, and in New York, you will be held accountable," said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg as he announced the charges at a news conference.
Bannon was indicted in 2020 for financial fraud over the same allegations, but was pardoned by Trump before he could be brought to trial.
Building the wall on the Mexican border was a key campaign promise by Trump in his run to the presidency in 2016.
CNN cited Bannon's lawyer Robert Costello as saying the former advisor would plead not guilty.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Bannon denounced "bogus lawsuits" against him 60 days before the November 8 midterm legislative elections.
He blasted "an armed partisan politicisation of the criminal justice system."
The criminal indictment comes six weeks after Bannon was convicted in a federal court in Washington of obstructing the investigative powers of Congress.
He had refused to cooperate with the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 assault on Capitol Hill by Trump supporters.
Even after leaving the White House in August 2017, Bannon had remained close to Trump, speaking with him the day before the Capitol riot.
Trump is himself at the centre of multiple probes, including an investigation in New York into his business practices, legal scrutiny over his efforts to overturn results of the 2020 election, and in connection with the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
The FBI is also investigating Trump's handling of classified materials, following a raid on his Florida home.