WhatsApp Logo Subscribe
For News Alert

News

US senator's power 'up for sale,' prosecutor says at corruption trial

By AFP

May 16, 2024 11:01 AM


Representational image

Twitter Share Facebook Share WhatsApp Share

 

Robert Menendez put his power as a top US senator "up for sale," prosecutors argued Wednesday in opening arguments at his high-profile corruption trial.

Menendez, a 70-year-old Democrat from New Jersey, and his wife Nadine are accused of extortion, obstruction of justice and accepting bribes to perform favors for businessmen with connections to Egypt and Qatar -- charges they deny.

In a raid on Menendez's New Jersey home, FBI agents allegedly found nearly $500,000 in cash hidden around the house.

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

"He was powerful. He was also corrupt," prosecutor Lara Pomerantz told the jury Wednesday.

Menendez led the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee until the charges were filed, and is on trial in federal court in Manhattan with two of the businessmen -- Egyptian-American Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, a real estate developer.

A third businessman, insurance broker Jose Uribe, pleaded guilty to bribery charges in March and has been assisting investigators.

Nadine Menendez, 57, is to be tried separately in July.

The most serious charges could carry up to 20 years in prison upon conviction.

Menendez's lawyer Avi Weitzman asserted in his opening remarks that his client "never took bribes."

Attempting to shift the blame, the lawyer said Menendez's wife, Nadine, whom the senator met in 2018 and married two years later, had "financial concerns" that she kept hidden from him.

"She made sure Bob wasn't in these conversations," he said.

In the Egypt-related case, Menendez is accused of accepting bribes to use his power and influence to enrich his co-conspirators and benefit the government of Egypt.

Menendez, who has rejected calls for his resignation, allegedly helped Hana protect his monopoly on US exports of halal food products to Egypt.

The senator is also accused of helping funnel US military assistance to the government in Cairo.

A senator since 2006 and before that a member of the House of Representatives for 14 years, Menendez, whose parents emigrated to the United States from Cuba, has been a Democratic stalwart in Congress for three decades.

He was previously indicted on bribery and corruption charges in 2015, but that case ended in a mistrial in 2017.


AFP


Most Read

  1. Woman kidnaps anti-feminist Khalilur Rehman Qamar, FIR registered Woman kidnaps anti-feminist Khalilur Rehman Qamar, FIR registered
  2. Powerful political mafia is out to sabotage Azm-e-Istehkam operation, says ISPR DG Powerful political mafia is out to sabotage Azm-e-Istehkam operation, says ISPR DG
  3. Fans can’t stop laughing after Salman Khan’s 'terrible' stare at Kim Fans can’t stop laughing after Salman Khan’s 'terrible' stare at Kim
  4. Roads flooded, power supply suspended as heavy rain lashes Punjab, AJK cities Roads flooded, power supply suspended as heavy rain lashes Punjab, AJK cities
  5. Lahore police bust honeytrap gang in Khalilur Rehman Qamar abduction case Lahore police bust honeytrap gang in Khalilur Rehman Qamar abduction case
  6. Islamabad police arrest PTI leader Raoof Hasan, deny taking Gohar into custody Islamabad police arrest PTI leader Raoof Hasan, deny taking Gohar into custody