US Senator Robert Menendez and Wife Charged With Bribery Offenses

US Senator Robert Menendez and Wife Charged With Bribery Offenses – Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat representing New Jersey in the United States, along with his spouse, faces charges related to bribery. These allegations involve the acceptance of various gifts, including gold bars, cash, and a Mercedes Benz, in exchange for their actions aimed at safeguarding three businessmen and exerting influence over the Egyptian government.

In a search of Menendez’ home, FBI special agents discovered “a lot of gold” provided by Fred Daibes – a builder, and one of the three businessmen – during a search of the Menendez couple’s home in New Jersey, according to Damian Williams, US attorney for the Southern District of New York. In a press conference on Friday, he said agents discovered approximately $500,000 of cash “stuffed into envelopes and closets”, some of which was “stuffed in the senator’s jacket pockets.”

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He mentioned that the FBI also located the Mercedes Benz automobile that Jose Uribe, one of the three businessmen and a former insurance agent, had supplied to the couple. “We are not done,” said Williams. “And I want to encourage anyone with information to come forward and to come forward quickly.” Menendez, a Senator since 2006, along with his wife, is facing three criminal charges each. 

These charges encompass conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under the guise of official authority. His office has not yet provided a response to a request for comment. As the chair of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Menendez had previously faced charges in New Jersey related to accepting private flights, campaign contributions, and other favors from a wealthy supporter in exchange for official actions. 

However, a 2017 trial resulted in a hung jury. The federal government is currently pursuing the forfeiture of assets, including the Menendezes’ New Jersey residence, a 2019 Mercedes-Benz vehicle, approximately $566,000 in cash, gold bars, and funds from a bank account. Additionally, the businessmen involved in this case, namely Wael Hana, Uribe, and Daibes, are also implicated. 

Prosecutors allege that Hana, originally from Egypt, orchestrated meetings between Menendez and Egyptian officials in 2018, during which the officials applied pressure on Menendez regarding US military aid. In return, Hana allegedly placed Nadine Menendez on his company’s payroll.

The New Jersey senator is also alleged to have “improperly pressured” a senior official at the Department of Agriculture to “protect a lucrative monopoly that the government of Egypt had awarded to [Wael] Hana” and that Hana used to “fund certain bribe payments”, Williams said.

“The indictment also alleges that Menendez used his power and influence to try to disrupt a criminal investigation and prosecution undertaken by the New Jersey attorney general’s office related to an associate and relative of [Jose] Uribe.”

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At that time, Egypt was among the top beneficiaries of US military assistance. However, in 2017, the State Department decided to withhold $195 million and cancel an extra $65.7 million in aid until the nation could exhibit progress in the realms of human rights and democracy.

Menendez at a meeting in 2018 told Hana non-public information about the status of the aid, prosecutors said. Hana then texted an Egyptian official: “The ban on small arms and ammunition to Egypt has been lifted,” according to an indictment made public on Friday.

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