The Worms of Corruption

By Jorge Elbaum on December 4, 2023

Bob Menendez

New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Bob Menendez, responsible for the harassment and bullying of all popular, progressive and leftist regimes in Latin America and the Caribbean during the last three decades, is about to face a Manhattan court on charges of illicit enrichment, receiving bribes, influence peddling and collusion with a foreign government (Egypt) to enable the export of arms. The criminal interactions with Egyptian President Abdelfatah al Sisi were mediated – according to New York U.S. Attorney Damian Williams – by businessman Wael Hana, the sole exporter of U.S. halal meat to Egypt.

The charges include the evidence of the searches carried out in the legislator’s mansion, where 480,000 dollars, three kilos of gold bars valued at 150,000 dollars and a luxury car not recorded in the congressman’s tax returns were found, financed by the Dominican businessman José Uribe, convicted for frauds linked to the marketing of insurance. The indictment promoted by the State Department details the acts of corruption that took place between 2018 and 2022, when Menendez used his influence as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the House of Senators to “protect and enrich friendly businessmen and support the Egyptian government”, receiving in exchange money, gold and perks of various kinds.

By promoting the sale of arms to Cairo, the Justice Department considers that the legislator violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act and the regulations that strictly prohibit legislators from promoting commercial transactions with foreign interests. The accusation includes as an accomplice the senator’s wife, Nadine Arslanian, who promoted extortion mechanisms to prevent the criminal trial against him from taking place.

Another of the charges filed by the District Attorney’s Office, relieved by the FBI and the Criminal Investigations Division of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), is the influence peddling promoted by Menendez – before the Justice Department – to protect businessman Fred Daibes, a New Jersey real estate developer accused of credit fraud against Mariner’s Bank for an amount close to two million dollars.

The indictment describes the attempt to promote the appointment of his fundraiser and personal attorney, Philip Sellinger, as a New York federal prosecutor, the prosecutor in charge of investigating the most relevant mob actions and political corruption cases. The Justice Department attributes to Menendez the intent to protect Daibes by appointing Sellinger in order to ensure the continuation of the lucrative real estate business developed by Edgewater, across the street from New York, from which Menendez was indirectly benefiting. In total, the Public Integrity Unit filed 18 charges against him, some of which are punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The Center for Legal and Policy Studies, an institution dedicated to the survey of irregularities and crimes of U.S. officials and legislators, demanded in October the impeachment of the congressman for the 18 charges and for the previous fraud record. In that investigation, conducted between 2015 and 2017, the Department of Justice consigned that Menendez received about one million dollars from ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen to protect him from the investigations carried out by the justice system. On that occasion, the senator was also investigated for influence peddling in favor of two Ecuadorian bankers, the brothers William and Roberto Isaías. For this political assistance, Menéndez received 300,000 dollars that he had to share with another legislator known for his anti-Cuban position, the Republican Marco Rubio. These cases were brought to trial in 2017, but Menendez and Rubio were benefited by then President Donald Trump, who asked the judge in the case to drop all charges.

Following the recent indictments reported last Oct. 12, Menendez was forced to resign as chairman of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee. However, he has refused to give up his seat despite the demand of his Democratic colleagues in both chambers.

Menendez has been a congressman for 30 years and his most important campaign contributor is the vulture fund NML, led by Paul Singer, one of those responsible for the theft of 15 billion dollars from Argentina.

In the law firm that defends NML, his son Robert Jacobsen Menéndez Jr. worked before being elected legislator in the Capitol since 2023. According to the president of the Center for Legal and Political Studies, the accusations against Menéndez show that “he is not only a career politician, but also a career criminal”.