Gold bars, wads of money and a halal meat firm: The case in opposition to Bob Menendez defined

Gold bars, wads of money and a halal meat firm: The case in opposition to Bob Menendez defined

Sometime in 2022, federal prosecutors in Manhattan ramped up a corruption investigation into three-term, New Jersey Senator Robert “Bob” Menendez who was additionally chairman of the Senate Overseas Relations Committee.

The investigation into Mr Menendez had roots in a separate prison inquiry right into a fledgling halal meat-certifying firm that went from beginning manufacturing, with no prior expertise, to having a profitable, unique take care of the Egyptian authorities in a matter of months.

The president of the halal meat start-up, a New Jersey businessman named Wael Hana, had seemingly given Mr Menendez and his spouse, Nadine Menendez, lavish presents in alternate for serving to him safe the deal.

It marks the second prison corruption investigation the senator has confronted throughout his tenure – and one which he rapidly disregarded as a “politically-motivated smear marketing campaign”.

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and his spouse, Nadine Menendez, arrive on the federal courthouse in New York in September 2023 after being charged with bribery (The Related Press. All rights reserved)

However prosecutors quickly discovered that the doubtless lavish presents that Mr Menendez accepted went a lot additional than serving to Mr Hana safe a deal. One other investor within the firm, businessman Fred Daibes, had allegedly used Mr Menendez to assist him safe funding for his residential skyscraper growth challenge, and landed an funding from a Qatari royal member of the family.

On a Thursday morning in June 2022, federal investigators descended on the Menendez’s New Jersey house and made a surprising discovery: 13 gold bars value over $100,000; a Mercedes-Benz convertible; and greater than $480,000 in money stuffed into envelopes and hidden in coats, jackets and boots.

Fifteen months later, Mr Menendez, his spouse and the 2 businessmen discovered themselves on the middle of an indictment accusing them of openly participating in a bribery scheme and making an attempt to impede justice. Mr Menendez was additionally accused of conspiring to behave as a international agent to the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

The halal meat firm scandal that sparked an investigation

Mr Hana, an Egyptian-American businessman, was struggling financially in 2018 after a number of failed enterprise ventures.

Within the yr prior, he had included a halal meat-certifying firm known as IS EG Halal. Its job was to certify that exported meat was ready in accordance with Islamic regulation for hundreds of thousands of People – although he had no prior expertise in halal certification.

At that very same time, his longtime good friend, Nadine Arslanian, started courting Mr Menendez who held a robust place on the Senate Overseas Relations Committee. She launched her boyfriend to Mr Hana, who had ties to Egyptian officers.

In April 2019, simply months after IS EG Halal started manufacturing, Mr Hana managed to strike a take care of the Egyptian authorities to develop into the only real firm to certify halal meat.

Wael Hana leaves the federal courthouse in New York on Tuesday, September 26, 2023 (Copyright 2023 The Related Press. All rights reserved.)

Prosecutors say that the deal was struck, partially, because of Mr Menendez, who “improperly suggested and pressured” a US agricultural official to take care of a contract regardless of dangers that the monopoly would disrupt the market.

In alternate for serving to the deal undergo, Mr Hana allegedly gifted Mr Menendez and his spouse mortgage funds, gold bars and money. He additionally put Ms Menendez on his firm payroll for a “low-or-no-show job” provided that Mr Menendez might facilitate extra gross sales of army tools to Egypt, based on court docket filings.

On the identical time, federal prosecutors say that Mr Menendez gave Mr Hana extremely delicate details about the US embassy in Cairo who then allegedly gave it to an Egyptian official.

Mr Menendez later ghost-wrote a letter on behalf of the federal government of Egypt, asking his Senate colleagues to launch a maintain on $300m in US help to Egypt, then deleted an e-mail by which his spouse requested him to try this, say prosecutors.

Money discovered at Senator Menendez’s house throughout FBI raid in June 2022 ((U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace))

A growth challenge in want of traders

On the identical time Mr Menendez was serving to Mr Hana, prosecutors allege he was additionally serving to Mr Daibes, an actual property developer in New Jersey.

Round 2021, Mr Daibes was on the lookout for a brand new investor to assist again his residential skyscraper growth challenge in Edgewater, New Jersey. He turned to his longtime ally, Mr Menendez, for assist.

Years earlier, Mr Menendez had helped Mr Daibes when he confronted a federal indictment accusing him of conspiring to defraud a financial institution he based, prosecutors say. The New Jersey senator allegedly accepted varied bribes from Mr Daibes in alternate for intervening by putting in a brand new US lawyer. Nonetheless, the plan was unsuccessful.

Fred Daibes appeared at federal court docket in March 2024 (Copyright 2024 The Related Press. All rights reserved)

Now going through the dire want for monetary backing to proceed his actual property challenge, Mr Daibes allegedly invoked the same tactic, based on court docket filings.

Prosecutors say Mr Menendez accepted luxurious watches, a gold bar and money from Mr Daibes “realizing” that he anticipated him to “induce the Qatari Funding Firm to take a position with Dabies”.

Mr Menendez finally did introduce Mr Daibes to an unnamed investor who was additionally a member of the Qatari royal household. Whereas Mr Daibes tried to safe a take care of the Qatari investor, Mr Menendez made a number of public statements expressing help for Qatar after which forwarded them to Mr Daibes to share with the investor and a Qatari authorities official, based on court docket paperwork.

Days after the funding was secured, Mr Menendez, his spouse and Mr Daibes met for dinner. Hours later, Mr Menendez allegedly Googled “one kilo gold worth”.

Two of the gold bars discovered throughout a search by federal brokers of Senator Bob Menendez’s house and protected deposit field in New Jersey (U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace)

Luxurious car funds create a path to extra prices

Throughout this time, prosecutors say Mr Menendez additionally accepted funds for a Mercedes-Benz convertible to assist a 3rd New Jersey businessman, Mr Uribe, with a prison investigation.

A number of of Mr Uribe’s associates had been beneath an insurance coverage fraud investigation and he sought Mr Menendez’s political affect to assist with that, based on prosecutors. In return, Mr Uribe organized for the Menendezes to obtain funds for Nadine’s luxurious car.

Mr Uribe initially pled not responsible to prices within the first indictment however modified his plea in March, agreeing to assist the federal government with their case.

He revealed to prosecutors that Mr Menendez and his spouse tried to cowl up the automotive funds by misrepresenting them as a mortgage quite than a bribe as soon as the couple discovered they had been beneath investigation. In flip, the couple and Mr Uribe lied to their legal professionals, he stated.

The’ Mercedes-Benz convertible, belonging to Nadine Menendez, that prosecutors declare was paid for with bribes (US Lawyer’s Workplace)

Mr Uribe’s revelation led prosecutors to develop the costs in opposition to the co-defendants to incorporate obstruction of justice.

In complete, Mr Menendez faces 16 felony prices, together with bribery, extortion, performing as a international agent and obstruction of justice. Ought to a jury determine to convict him, he might spend the remainder of his life in jail.

His trial begins on Monday.

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Written by bourbiza mohamed

Bourbiza Mohamed is a freelance journalist and political science analyst holding a Master's degree in Political Science. Armed with a sharp pen and a discerning eye, Bourbiza Mohamed contributes to various renowned sites, delivering incisive insights on current political and social issues. His experience translates into thought-provoking articles that spur dialogue and reflection.

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