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US senator charged with corruption for anything from gold hoarding to Halal meet monopoly

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    Federal prosecutors charged powerful US Senator Robert Menendez with bribery and extortion. Menendez was charged with using his power to help three men and the Egyptian government in exchange for bribes.

    According to the prosecutors, the New Jersey Democrat and his wife took hundreds of thousands of dollars via gold bars, mortgage payments, a Mercedes-Benz convertible, and cash.

    Much of the cash was stuffed in envelopes and boxes and hidden around their home, some tucked into jackets bearing his name.

    Gold bars worth around $150,000 and a luxury Mercedes Benz convertible, gifted by one of the businessmen, were also found.

    Prosecutors said they had evidence showing that around the time he and his wife received the gold bars, Menendez searched Google to find out how much they were worth.

    He is accused of extraordinary efforts to help people who allegedly lavished gifts and money on him and his wife Nadine Menendez.

    Menendez, his wife, Hana, and the two other businessmen, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes, were charged with two counts of bribery and fraud.

    Menendez and his wife were also charged with extortion.

    Menendez allegedly used his office to help Hana protect a monopoly on certifying US-produced halal meat exports to Egypt as compliant with Islamic standards. Hana, despite having no experience in halal certification, got the monopoly under murky circumstances in 2019.

    Hours after the indictment Menendez stepped down "temporarily" as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, a position that had given him significant influence over US foreign relations.

    In a statement, Menendez called the allegations "baseless" and characterized the indictment as a personal attack on him and his wife Nadine Menendez.

    Calls for his resignation even came from fellow Democrats, with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy saying the charges were "deeply disturbing."

    If found guilty, the most serious of the charges can bring up to 20 years in prison.

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    Updated: 23 Sep 2023, 11:24 AM IST


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