Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife were indicted by a grand jury on federal bribery charges that include allegations of nearly $500,000 in hidden cash and shady deals involving the Egyptian government.
The Southern District of New York unsealed the indictment Friday, which includes allegations that Menendez (D-NJ), along with his wife Nadine, worked with three businessmen who gave them cash, gold bars, payment for no-show jobs, and a luxury vehicle, among other items, NBC 4 New York reported. The indictment states that a search of the couple’s home uncovered $100,000 in gold bars and $480,000 in cash stashed in clothing, closets, and a safe.
“Today, I’m announcing that my office has obtained a three-count indictment charging Senator Robert Menendez, his wife, Nadine Menendez, and three New Jersey businessmen, Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes for bribery offenses,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said Friday, per Fox News.
The indictment alleges that Menendez provided sensitive U.S. government information to the Egyptian government. He allegedly ghost-wrote a letter for Egypt that advocated lifting a hold on $300 million in aid to the country. He also lobbied then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to resume negotiations with Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to build a dam over the Nile River.
Federal officials investigated whether the couple accepted gifts from a New Jersey business called IS EG Halal. The alleged gifts included the use of a Mercedes and a luxury apartment in Washington, D.C. The company was later given a contract with Egypt to become the sole Halal meat inspector in the nation despite having no experience in that area of work, according to NBC 4. Egypt’s agriculture agency dismissed other companies who had previously provided such services for the country.
The decision from the Egyptian government to switch their contract came the same year Menendez became engaged to Nadine Arslanian, a friend of IS EG Halal’s owner, Wael Hana.
“In exchange for Menendez’s and Nadine Menendez’s promise that [the senator] would, among other things, use his power and authority to facilitate such sales and financing to Egypt, Hana promised, among other things, to put Nadine Menendez on the payroll of his company in a low-or-no-show job,” the indictment reads.
Menendez denied any wrongdoing in a statement Friday.
“For years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave,” Menendez said, per the New Jersey Globe. “Since this investigation was leaked nearly a year ago, there has been an active smear campaign of anonymous sources and innuendos to create an air of impropriety where none exists.”
“The excesses of these prosecutors is apparent. They have misrepresented the normal work of a Congressional office. On top of that, not content with making false claims against me, they have attacked my wife for the longstanding friendships she had before she and I even met,” he continued.
Menendez is the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — a position investigators fear was used for leverage in his business dealings. The senator had previously claimed, “Donald Trump could be compromised by the Russian government.”
Two associates of Menendez’s allegedly purchased a Mercedes-Benz C-300 convertible valued at over $60,000 for him and his wife. The pretext of the deal, according to the indictment, was that Menendez interfered in a New Jersey state criminal prosecution against one of his alleged co-defendants, Jose Uribe. The deal was made after Menendez’s wife totaled her car.
Menendez allegedly talked to a senior state prosecutor in the New Jersey attorney general’s office about the investigation.
“Congratulations mon amour de la vie, we are the proud owners of a 2019 Mercedes,” Menendez’s wife allegedly texted Uribe after she got the car.
Menendez has been in the Senate since 2006 and faces reelection next year. The senator faced corruption charges in 2017, which resulted in a deadlocked jury. The Senate Historical Office said this appears to be the first time a sitting senator was indicted on two unrelated criminal allegations, according to NBC 4.