New York, Sep 27 (EFE) – US Senator Bob Menendez pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal bribery charges in a Manhattan (New York) court, days after being accused by prosecutors of corruption in favor of the Egyptian government and several business people.
Menendez, a Democratic senator from New Jersey of Cuban origin, agreed to pay a bail of 100,000 dollars and to surrender his passport. However, local media reported that he will be able to keep his official passport for work, the only reason he will also be able to leave the United States.
The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York accused Menendez and his wife Nadine Arslanian last Friday of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for using their political influence to “protect and enrich businessmen and benefit the Egyptian government,” something he denied.
Nadine also pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to one count of bribery-related conspiracy.
The bribes allegedly received by the Menendez family from 2018 to 2022 were cash, gold bullion, mortgage payments, a job requiring almost no presence for Nadine, and a Mercedes-Benz vehicle.
Also charged in the case are the three businessmen who allegedly bribed Menendez: Wael Hana, José Uribe, and Fred Daibes, linked to the Egyptian government, according to authorities.
In the search of the Menendez residence, the FBI found hidden some $500,000 (468,847 euros) in cash, prosecutors said.
The senator, who has been a legislator for 30 years and is seeking re-election in 2024, has defended his innocence and has refused to resign his seat despite requests from notable figures in his party, such as the governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, or the also Democratic senator for that state, Cory Booker.
This is the second time Menendez has been charged with corruption in a decade. However, the previous prosecution against him was dropped after a jury trial in which no agreement on a verdict was reached.
In 2015, Menendez was indicted on 14 criminal counts related to receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in lavish gifts and campaign donations from a Florida ophthalmologist, Salomon Melgen, who was convicted of fraud and sentenced to over 15 years in prison. EFE