US Senator Menendez helped businessman with Qatar investment -indictment

US Senator Menendez helped businessman with Qatar investment -indictment

NEW YORK (Reuters) -U.S. Senator Bob Menendez helped a New Jersey businessman seek an investment from a Qatari company with ties to the Middle Eastern country’s government, prosecutors said on Tuesday in an indictment against the Democratic lawmaker.

Menendez had pleaded not guilty in October to conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of the Egyptian government, and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from New Jersey businessmen to impede law enforcement probes they faced.

The new allegations, filed in Manhattan federal court, add pressure on the embattled Democrat, who has resisted calls to resign from members of his own party.

Menendez faces four conspiracy charges, including conspiring to commit bribery, honest services fraud, extortion and acting as a foreign agent.

He has denied wrongdoing, but stepped down temporarily as chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee after charges were first brought in September. Menendez has been a New Jersey senator since 2006.

Adam Fee, a lawyer for Menendez, said Menendez acted “entirely appropriately” with respect to Qatar and Egypt. “These new allegations don’t change a thing, and their theories won’t survive the scrutiny of the court or a jury,” Fee said in a statement.

The indictment accuses Menendez and his wife Nadine of receiving gold and tickets to a Formula One race, in exchange for helping businessman Fred Daibes negotiate a multimillion-dollar investment for a real estate project in New Jersey.

According to the indictment, Menendez had in June 2021 introduced Daibes to a member of the Qatari royal family who ran an investment company.

Prosecutors said Menendez made public statements favorable to Qatar, and in August 2021 gave Daibes an advance look at a press release praising the country’s government.

“You might want to send to them,” Menendez told Daibes in an encrypted message, according to the indictment.

By May 2022, the Qatari company, which was not named, signed a letter of intent to enter a joint venture with Daibes’ company, prosecutors said.

Menendez was soon rewarded, prosecutors said, when a Qatari official gave a relative of Nadine Menendez tickets to the May 2022 Formula One race in Miami, and Daibes gave Menendez a gold bar.

Late that month, after dining with his wife and Daibes, the senator did a Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) search for “one kilo gold price,” prosecutors said.

Daibes and Nadine Menendez have also been indicted and pleaded not guilty.

A lawyer for Daibes declined to comment, while Nadine Menendez’ lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Qatar’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a similar request.

Menendez’s trial is set for May 6.

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