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Sen. Menendez charged with receiving gifts from Qatar in new allegations in corruption scheme


By Kara Scannell, CNN

(CNN) — Federal prosecutors allege Sen. Bob Menendez accepted race car tickets and other gifts from Qatar as part of a yearslong corruption scheme, with the Gulf nation joining Egypt as another foreign country the New Jersey Democrat is accused of helping while in office.

Prosecutors allege in the superseding indictment that Menendez’s bribery and extortion scheme continued into 2023, a year longer than initially alleged. The new indictment, made public Tuesday, amends and replaces the original indictment, listing the formal charges against a defendant.

Among the new allegations, according to the indictment, is that Menendez accepted payments from one of his co-conspirators, New Jersey real estate developer Fred Daibes, in exchange for using his influence to help Daibes obtain millions of dollars from an investment fund tied to Qatar. The senator, prosecutors allege, additionally took steps to help Qatar.

Menendez, his wife Nadine Menendez, Daibes and two other New Jersey businessmen were indicted as part of a bribery scheme last year. All have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In addition to the bribery charges, Menendez is accused of acting as a foreign agent for the government of Egypt by allegedly taking steps to help the country in exchange for one of the defendants obtaining a monopoly on a Halal export business. Menendez has vigorously denied any wrongdoing.

Menendez’s attorney said in a statement Tuesday that “the government does not have the proof to back up any of the old or new allegations” but instead “a string of baseless assumptions and bizarre conjectures based on routine, lawful contacts between a Senator and his constituents or foreign officials.”

“At all times, Senator Menendez acted entirely appropriately with respect to Qatar, Egypt, and the many other countries he routinely interacts with,” Attorney Adam Fee said in the statement. “Those interactions were always based on his professional judgment as to the best interests of the United States because he is, and always has been, a patriot. This latest Indictment only exposes the lengths to which these hostile prosecutors will go to poison the public before a trial even begins. But these new allegations don’t change a thing, and their theories won’t survive the scrutiny of the court or a jury.”

The latest indictment alleges Menendez introduced Daibes, who was seeking an investment, to a member of the Qatari royal family and principal of the Qatari Investment Company. While the Qatari investment fund was weighing an investment, Menendez made multiple public statements supporting the government of Qatar, according to the indictment.

“Menendez provided Daibes with these statements so that Daibes could share them with the Qatari Investor and a Qatari government officials associated with the Qatari Investment Company,” prosecutors allege.

In August 2021, the senator sent a press release in which he praised the Qatari government to Daibes, texting him, “You might want to send to them. I am just about to release,” the indictment alleges. The following month, after attending a private event hosted by the Qatari government in Manhattan, Daibes texted Menendez photographs of luxury watches valued as much as $23,990, asking, “How about one of these?” Two days later, Menendez texted Daibes a link to a website tracking a Senate resolution supporting Qatar.

Months later in January 2022, Menendez texted the Qatari investor ahead of his meeting with Daibes in London to discuss the potential investment, writing, “I understand my friend is going to visit with you on the 15th of the month. I hope that this will result in the favorable and mutually beneficial agreement that you have been both engaged in discussing,” according to the indictment.

In May, at the senator’s request, the Qatari official provided tickets to the 2022 Formula One Grand Prix to a close relative of Nadine Menendez.

That same month, following a meeting between the senator, Daibes, and the two Qatari officials, the Qatari investment fund signed a letter of intent to enter into a joint venture with Daibes’ company. After, Daibes provided Menendez with a gold bar, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors also allege after Menendez’s home was searched by the FBI in early 2022, the senator took steps to try to cover up the alleged bribes by paying back the mortgage and car payments to the New Jersey businessmen and disguising them as loans.

Last year, the Qatari Investment Company made it official and invested tens of millions of dollars with Daibes. Menendez continued to receive benefits from the Qataris, including four tickets to that year’s Formula One Grand Prix race, the indictment alleges.

Prosecutors say Menendez did not note on his financial disclosure forms the gifts from Qatar and Daibes, including the gold bars and race tickets.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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