The high-profile arrest of former Trump advisor Steve Bannon took place Thursday aboard a superyacht owned by a Chinese entrepreneur wanted in Beijing. The 151-foot Lady May, owned by Guo Wengui, was boarded by the U.S. Coast Guard, special agents from the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan and federal postal inspectors around 7 a.m. Thursday morning.
Hours later, Bannon pleaded not guilty to charges that he and others had siphoned millions of dollars from an online fundraising effort called “We Build the Wall,” a private group whose stated goal was to raise money for a U.S. border wall with Mexico. Bannon was accused of taking about $1 million for personal expenses. He was later released on $5 million bail.
Vacationers noticed the superyacht anchored offshore in Westbrook, Connecticut. Yesterday afternoon, many binoculars were in evidence on the beach, scoping out Lady May, which later departed for Manhattan. “I never saw such a big boat,” Catherine Bue-Hepner told the local newspaper, The Day. “When the owner of the cottage came by, he said it was Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. You figured it had to be somebody big.”
Instead, it was Wengui and Bannon. Wengui, an exiled Chinese billionaire, has business ties to Bannon. He was not arrested yesterday, but there are warrants out for his arrest in Beijing, where authorities have accused Wengui of crimes including bribery, kidnapping, money laundering, fraud and rape. He fled to the U.S. in late 2014 and lives in self-imposed exile in Manhattan. He is also a member of President Trump’s Mar-A-Lago club in Florida.
Feadship launched Lady May in the Netherlands in 2014. Originally named Como, the yacht was built for New Zealander Neville Crichton. Robb Report reported at the time that the yacht was different from others on the market because its main deck was wrapped in a continuous sheet of glass. “This design creates the illusion that the entire superstructure is supported by glass and provides largely uninterrupted views from the yacht’s salon and forward owner’s suite,” we wrote.
Lady May is currently on sale for $27.9 million. It won a number of design awards in 2015 after it was launched.
The Bannon arrest was made by officials from the U.S. Postal Service, with transport provided by the U.S. Coast Guard.