U.S. foreign relations chair charged with corruption over Egypt ties

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A United States senator who serves as chairman of the influential U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee stands accused of acting on behalf of the Egyptian government in a corruption case that alleges the exchange of cash, gold, a car, and other benefits totaling more than a half-million dollars.

Authorities allege that Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ, and his wife connected with three businessman in his home state of New Jersey, accepting bribes to provide them with lucrative contracts and shield their associates from criminal charges. But the three, identified as Wael Hana, Fred Daibes and Jose Uribe, also facilitated deals involving Egyptian officials. Hana, originally from Egypt, was a longtime friend of Nadine Arslanian Menendez prior to her marriage.

“Among other actions, Senator Menendez allegedly provided sensitive, nonpublic U.S. government information to Egyptian officials and otherwise took steps to secretly aid the government of Egypt,” said Damian Williams, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, during a Friday press conference.

The investigation into Menendez spans more than four years, from at least January 2018 to June 2022. Authorities say it includes evidence that Hana and Nadine Menendez introduced the senator to Egyptian military and intelligence officials, and shared information with Hana about U.S. military aid and policy on arms sales to Egypt, which Hana then passed on to an Egyptian government official.

In 2020, Nadine Menendez arranged for the senator to meet an Egyptian military leader about the diplomatic dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Menendez subsequently wrote letters to the former U.S. secretaries of the departments of Treasury and State, urging them to engage on negotiations.

The indictment notes that Menendez failed to follow policies on his engagement with foreign governments while accepting cash and gifts. U.S. officials say they seized more than $500,000 cash from the Menendez home and a safe deposit box, gold bars worth at least $150,000, and a 2019 Mercedes Benz financed by Hana and Uribe.

A defiant Menendez says the U.S. government is misrepresenting his actions and he has so far refused to step down amid calls for his resignation. He most recently visited Egypt in August as part of a U.S. delegation, and previously met with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in October 2021, above, in his role as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

There has been no immediate response from the Egyptian government.

Image: Egyptian Presidency file

The post U.S. foreign relations chair charged with corruption over Egypt ties first appeared on Africa Times.

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