New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez is facing a new federal indictment, accusing him of accepting bribes from Qatar. This is the second foreign country he is said to have improperly aided. The accusations involve a corruption scheme spanning from 2021 to 2023.
Menendez had already pleaded not guilty in October to charges of acting as an illegal agent of Egypt. Adam Fee, a lawyer representing the senator, dismisses the justice department’s claims as “baseless” and “bizarre conjectures.”
Prosecutors had previously shared that when the senator’s home was first raided in 2022, agents found a Mercedes-Benz convertible, 13 gold bars, and almost half a million dollars in cash.
Although Menendez is not facing any new charges, it’s now reported that he also accepted gifts, such as tickets to car races, cash, and watches, in exchange for praising the Qatari government.
Plea of innocence
The senator, aged 70, denies any wrongdoing. Despite increasing pressure, including calls from within his own party, he has so far refused to resign and hasn’t ruled out running for re-election again. His wife, Nadine Menendez, who was also accused of being involved in the scheme, pleaded not guilty as well.
Menendez is accused of assisting businessman Fred Daibes by publicly supporting Qatar, aiming to facilitate an investment. Daibes, along with three other New Jersey businessmen, denies the charges.
The new indictment has not identified a specific member of Qatar’s royal family that the men were said to be dealing with, but documents show that the individual was a principal of the Qatari Investment Co.
A questionable investment
It’s claimed that Menendez took actions favorable to the Qatari government in order to get the Qatari Investment Co. to invest in a real estate project planned by Daibes. A multimillion-dollar investment was eventually agreed upon.
In 2021, Menendez and Daibes attended an event together hosted by the Qatari government in New York. Just a few days later, Daibes sent Menendez images of luxury watches worth up to $23,990 with the question, “How about one of these?”
The indictment also revealed that Menendez used an encrypted messaging app to speak to the Qatari investor. One message read, “Greetings. I understand my friend is going to visit with you. I hope that this will result in the favorable and mutually beneficial agreement that you have been both engaged in discussing.”
Just days after the letter of intent for the investment had been signed, Daibes, Menendez, and Menendez’s wife met for dinner. Senator Menendez made a Google search hours later for the price of a kilo of gold.
Denying the claims
Menendez’s lawyer, Adam Fee, has since said that the new allegations “stink of desperation.” He went on to say, “Despite what they’ve touted in press releases, the government does not have the proof to back up any of the old or new allegations against Senator Menendez.”
The fight goes on
Fee continued, “What they have instead is a string of baseless assumptions and bizarre conjectures based on routine, lawful contacts between a senator and his constituents or foreign officials. They are turning this into a persecution, not a prosecution.”
This isn’t the first time Menendez has been involved in a corruption investigation. In 2017, he was involved in and beat a case involving a Florida eye doctor, in which he was said to have been running a bribery scheme. The next trial for his current case will begin in May.