Prosecutors accuse Menendez and his wife of corruption, including using top Democrat’s power to influence policy to benefit Egypt.
Top United States Senator Bob Menendez and his wife have been charged with bribery, as US prosecutors accused the pair of accepting bribes for a range of corrupt acts, including using the Democrat’s power to influence foreign policy for the benefit of Egypt.
The US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan on Friday accused Menendez and his wife Nadine of accepting hundreds of dollars in bribes in connection to their relationship with three New Jersey businessmen.
“Those bribes included cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle, and other things of value,” the indictment read.
A search of the couple’s home turned up $100,000 in gold bars and $480,000 in hidden cash, prosecutors said.
Menendez and his wife face three criminal counts each: conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under colour of official right.
The senator’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Reuters news agency.
A lawyer for Menendez’s wife did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment from The Associated Press. Messages also were left for Menendez’s Senate spokesperson and his political consultant, the news agency said.
Menendez, the 69-year-old chair of the influential US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, had previously been charged in New Jersey with accepting private flights, campaign contributions and other bribes from a wealthy patron in exchange for official favours.
However, a 2017 trial ended in a jury deadlock.
Menendez, who has been in the US Senate since 2006, appears to be the first sitting senator in US history to have been indicted on two unrelated criminal allegations, according to a list maintained by the Senate Historical Office.
Menendez faces re-election next year in a bid to extend his three-decade career in Washington, and as Democrats hold a narrow majority in the Senate.
Menendez first publicly disclosed that he was the subject of a new federal investigation last October. Prosecutors declined at the time to comment, but some details of their investigation emerged in news reports and court records.
They are seeking to have Menendez forfeit assets including his New Jersey home, a 2019 Mercedes-Benz, and about $566,000 in cash, gold bars, and funds from a bank account.
The businessmen – Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes – were also charged in the scheme.
Prosecutors said Hana, who is originally from Egypt, arranged dinners and meetings between Menendez and Egyptian officials in 2018 at which the officials pressed Menendez on the status of US military aid.
In exchange, Hana put Nadine Menendez on his company’s payroll, prosecutors said.
Egypt at the time was one of the largest recipients of US military aid, but the Department of State had withheld $195m in 2017 and cancelled an additional $65.7m until the country could demonstrate improvements on 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.