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Sen. Bob Menendez Faces New Allegations Involving Bribes and Qatari Investment Deal

A federal grand jury has issued a second superseding indictment against Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, following previous allegations of bribery. The new charges involve Menendez making favorable statements about Qatar to assist a New Jersey developer in securing a multimillion-dollar investment from a Qatari-linked company.

New Allegations

Credit: Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to examine the nomination of National Security Council Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell to be Deputy Secretary of State on Capitol Hill, Dec. 7, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

The indictment points out that during discussions in late 2021 and 2022 regarding the investment deal, Menendez expressed supportive sentiments about Qatar. These statements were intended to be shared with a Qatari investor and a Qatari government official associated with the Qatari Investment Company, according to prosecutors.

Text Messages and Luxury Watches

Credit: DepositPhotos

Prosecutors claim that Menendez and the developer, Fred Daibes, exchanged text messages related to the alleged scheme. In September 2021, Daibes sent Menendez photos of luxury watches via an encrypted app, valued between $9,990 and $23,990, and asked Menendez if he wanted one.

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Defense Attorney’s Response

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Adam Fee, Menendez’s lawyer, dismissed the new allegations as “desperation.” He argued that prosecutors had built their case on baseless assumptions and unusual conjectures stemming from ordinary, lawful interactions between a senator, his constituents, and foreign officials.

Not Guilty Pleas

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Both Menendez and Daibes have pleaded not guilty in the case. In a previous indictment from September, prosecutors accused Menendez and his wife of accepting bribes, including cash, gold bars, mortgage payments, and other valuable items.

Web Searches and Gold Bars

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The new indictment reveals that federal prosecutors reviewed Menendez’s web searches after his return from Qatar in October 2021. They allege that Menendez searched for “how much is one kilo of gold worth.”

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Menendez’s Introduction

Credit: PIER MARCO TACCA/GETTY IMAGES

The indictment asserts that Menendez introduced Daibes to an unnamed Qatari investor, a member of the Qatari royal family. Following a May 2022 meeting between Daibes, Menendez, and the Qatari investor, a deal was struck, and Daibes gave Menendez “at least one gold bar.”

Qatari Investment

Credit: Qatari Investment / Labiotech

By 2023, the Qatari Investment Company had entered into a joint venture with a company controlled by Daibes, investing tens of millions of dollars into the project. Menendez continued to receive benefits from the Qatari Investment Company, including tickets to the 2023 Formula One Grand Prix in Miami.

Gold Bars Discovered

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The indictment mentions that a search warrant executed at Menendez’s home in 2022 uncovered “two one-kilogram gold bars and nine one-ounce gold bars” that had serial numbers indicating they had previously been possessed by Daibes.

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New Allegations Tied to Existing Charges

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The fresh allegations in the superseding indictment are integrated into the existing charges against Menendez, including conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy for a public official to act as a foreign agent.

Original Indictment Details

Credit: Sen. Bob Menendez. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The original indictment accused Menendez, then chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in bribes to leverage his influence for Daibes and other businessmen and to benefit the Egyptian government.

Superseding Indictment in October

Credit: U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) delivers remarks, after he and his wife Nadine Menendez were indicted on bribery offenses in connection with their corrupt relationship with three New Jersey businessmen, in Union City, New Jersey, U.S., September 25, 2023. REUTERS/Mike Segar REUTERS

A superseding indictment in October alleged that Menendez had “provided sensitive U.S. Government information and took other steps that secretly aided the Government of Egypt.”

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Menendez’s Defense and Denial

Credit: Senator Robert Menendez walks to the Senate Chambers in the US Capitol Building on 15 November 2023
(Getty Images)

Menendez has consistently denied these allegations, asserting that they contradict his longstanding advocacy for human rights and democracy in Egypt, and his willingness to challenge leaders of that country.

Continued Senate Presence

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Menendez temporarily stepped down as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after the initial charges but remains a member of the committee. Over two dozen Senate Democrats, including Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, have called for Menendez’s resignation from Congress.

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