Senator Bob Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his wife Nadine Arslanian, have been indicted on federal bribery charges for allegedly accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, gold bars, a Mercedes-Benz convertible, home mortgage payments, and more in a “corrupt relationship” with three New Jersey businessmen and the Egyptian government, according to an indictment filed in Manhattan federal court that was made public on Friday.
The indictment alleges that the Menendezes accepted the bribes from Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes, who had business interests in Egypt, New Jersey, and elsewhere, in exchange for Menendez using his influence as a senator to benefit them and the Egyptian government. The indictment also accuses the Menendezes of lying to the Senate Ethics Committee and the FBI about their income and assets.
The indictment details how the Menendezes received lavish gifts and favors from the businessmen, including:
- Over $480,000 in cash, much of which was “stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets and a safe” at their home.
- Two gold bars worth $100,000, which were found in a closet during a search of their home.
- A Mercedes-Benz SL550 convertible worth $120,000, which was paid for by Uribe and parked in their garage.
- Payments toward a $1.5 million mortgage on their home, which were made by Daibes.
- A low-or-no-show job for Nadine Arslanian at Daibes’s company, which paid her $180,000 a year.
- Trips to Egypt, France, Italy, and other countries, which were arranged and paid for by Hana.
In return for the bribes, the indictment alleges that Menendez used his power as a senator to help the businessmen and the Egyptian government in various ways, including:
- Providing sensitive US government information and taking other steps that secretly aided the Egyptian government, which had awarded Hana a lucrative contract to build a power plant.
- Arranging meetings between Egyptian officials and the Menendezes, who visited the country several times and even got engaged at the Taj Mahal in 2019.
- Calling state prosecutors to try and disrupt an investigation into Uribe, who was accused of fraud and money laundering.
- Trying to get President Biden to appoint a US Attorney for New Jersey who would scuttle another investigation into Daibes, who was suspected of bank fraud.
- Intervening in various legislative and regulatory matters that affected the interests of the businessmen, such as tax breaks, environmental permits, and federal contracts.
Both Menendez and Arslanian have denied any wrongdoing and vowed to fight the charges in court. They claim that they are victims of a political smear campaign and that their relationship with the businessmen was based on friendship, not corruption.
Menendez issued a statement on Friday, saying that “for years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave”. He said that he has always acted with integrity and honor and that he is confident that he will be vindicated once all the facts are presented.
Arslanian also issued a statement through her lawyers, saying that she is innocent and that she will defend herself vigorously. She said that she is proud of her husband and his service to the country and that she is grateful for the support of their family and friends.
The indictment is the second time that Menendez has faced federal corruption charges. In 2015, he was accused of accepting bribes from a Florida eye doctor, but the case ended in a mistrial after the jury failed to reach a verdict. The Justice Department later dropped the charges.
Menendez, 69, is a senior Democrat and a prominent voice on foreign policy issues. He was elected to a third term in the Senate in 2018 and became the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee this year.