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Sen. Bob Menendez accused of aiding Qatar in exchange for bribes

Byusanewscart.com

Jan 2, 2024

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NEW YORK — Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is facing a new set of federal bribery allegations in a superseding indictment unsealed Tuesday that accuses him of providing assistance to the government of Qatar as well as Egypt.

While the indictment does not add charges, it makes public previously unknown allegations of corruption by the longtime lawmaker, who headed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee until he was charged in U.S. District Court in Manhattan several months ago. It is the second superseding charging document to be filed since Menendez surrendered in September.

Two earlier versions of the indictment discussed efforts by Menendez, his wife Nadine and two associates to use the senator’s influence to aid the Egyptian government. Menendez has resisted calls to resign, and all defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Menendez’s trial is scheduled for May.

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Prosecutors now say Menendez’s corruption involved Qatar, a wealthy and oil-rich Middle Eastern nation.

The superseding indictment alleges that the senator brokered a multimillion-dollar real estate deal between a Qatari investor and Fred Daibes, a New Jersey developer who is also charged as a defendant in the case.

In August 2021, Menendez allegedly sent out a preview of his own news release praising Qatar before its actual release. It was forwarded to a Qatari official, according to the indictment, potentially showing a cozy relationship between the senator and Qatari contacts or that he was issuing the news release to please them.

After a trip to Egypt and Qatar with his wife in October 2021, Menendez allegedly did a web search for the value of a gold bar, court papers say in the updated documents. Prosecutors say Menendez and his spouse were paid off in gold, cash and other gifts. The indictment cites a text exchange between Daibes and Menendez in which Daibes allegedly offers him a selection of luxury watches ranging from $10,000 to $24,000.

Nadine allegedly was offered a no-show job by another of their associates, Wael Hana, an Egyptian businessman, according to the original indictment. Hana is also charged.

The superseding indictment accuses Menendez and his wife of trying to cover up the nature of bribes they allegedly took by claiming they were loans and that repayments were being made.

In an October superseding indictment, Menendez was charged with conspiring to act as a foreign agent while he was heading the Foreign Relations Committee and had access to sensitive information.

The indictment made public Tuesday doesn’t name the Qatari investment company that Menendez allegedly worked with. But details about the company’s U.S. investments and meetings with the Menendez associate match the description of a London-based fund called Heritage Advisors, which is led by a member of the ruling family of Qatar. A spokesman for the fund didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sen. Bob Menendez escaped legal peril once. Can he do it again?

Heritage Advisors registered a company in New Jersey in 2022 and later purchased ownership interest in a swath of properties connected to Daibes, as The Washington Post reported last year.

The properties included the site housing the halal meat certification company that is at the center of the allegations against Menendez, property records show. Investigators in the case have demanded documents related to Heritage Advisors, according to people familiar with those subpoenas, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

An attorney for Menendez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Menendez was separately indicted in New Jersey years ago on federal corruption charges, but was ultimately not convicted after a jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Isaac Stanley-Becker in Washington contributed to this report.

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