US Senator Bob Menendez was previously accused of acting as an agent on behalf of the Egyptian government
US Senator Bob Menendez, a key figure in Washington’s swath of Russia sanctions, has been accused of accepting bribes from Qatar in a new federal indictment. It’s the second foreign nation that the Democratic lawmaker is alleged to have illegally assisted.
Manhattan federal prosecutors said on Tuesday that Menendez, who has held New Jersey’s US Senate seat since 2006, improperly used his position to help a property developer in securing financial assistance from a wealth fund run by a Qatari sheik. In return, Menendez is accused of receiving payoffs including cash, gold bars, and a range of other high-value items.
The 70-year-old senator pleaded not guilty last year to corruption charges that alleged he had worked as an illegal agent of Egypt without registering his intent with the Justice Department as required by law. The document unveiled on Tuesday does not contain new charges against Menendez but broadens the scope of his alleged wrongdoing.
Menendez’s attorney, Adam Fee, said the updated allegations against his client “stink of desperation.”
“The government does not have the proof to back up any of the old or new allegations against Senator Menendez,” Fee said, according to Fox News on Tuesday. “What they have instead is a string of baseless assumptions and bizarre conjecture based on routine, lawful contacts between a senator and his constituents or foreign officials.”
Menendez, his wife Nadine, and New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes, all pleaded not guilty to the federal bribery charge in September.
According to the indictment, Menendez is alleged to have made several statements in support of the Qatari government as part of the scheme for Daibes to secure funds from an unnamed Qatari investor and a Qatari government official, who was also not identified. He is also accused of appointing a prosecutor sympathetic to Daibes, who faced separate allegations of banking crimes.
The original indictment claimed that, from 2018 to 2022, Menendez and his wife “engaged in a corrupt relationship” with Daibes, Hana and Uribe. The allegations linked to Qatar extended the alleged scheme to 2023, the fresh indictment said.
Menendez stepped down from his position as head of the Senate’s influential Foreign Relations Committee after the initial charges were filed in September, where he had played a key role in drawing up Washington’s sanctions on Moscow following the launch of its offensive in Ukraine. However, he has so far resisted calls to resign from the Senate and has not ruled out running for re-election.
A trial for Menendez and his co-defendants is scheduled to take place in the US District Court in Manhattan in May.