Prosecutors say Senator Menendez made money by linking a member of Qatar’s royal family to a NJ businessman

(Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press)

Prosecutors say Senator Menendez made money by linking a member of Qatar’s royal family to a NJ businessman


January 3, 2024

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez used his international influence to help a friend close a multimillion-dollar deal with a Qatari investment fund, in part by taking actions favorable to the Qatari government, federal prosecutors said this week in a revised indictment.

The new charges increase legal challenges for Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who has already been accused of using his political influence to secretly advance Egypt’s interests.

The New York superseding indictment alleged that the senator and his wife accepted bribes in the form of gold bars and cash from New Jersey real estate developer Fred Daibes as reward for various corrupt acts, including his help in securing a major investment from the Qatari Fund.

Prosecutors said Menendez introduced Daibes to a member of Qatar’s royal family who was also a director of the investment company, met personally with Qatari officials and made public statements supporting Qatar while the real estate deal was being negotiated.

According to the indictment, the Qatari investor ultimately invested tens of millions of dollars in the Daibes development project, in a deal that closed in 2023.

Adam Fee, an attorney for Menendez, said in a statement Tuesday that prosecutors had no evidence of any wrongdoing.

“What they have instead is a series of unfounded assumptions and bizarre suspicions based on routine, lawful contacts between a senator and his constituents or foreign officials. They are making this a prosecution, not a prosecution,” he said.

Senator Menendez has acted completely appropriately at all times with regard to Qatar, Egypt and the many other countries with which he routinely interacts. Those interactions were always based on his professional judgment about the interests of the United States, because he is and always has been a patriot.”

Tim Donohue, an attorney for Daibes, said he had no immediate comment.

The indictment did not specify which member of Qatar’s royal family was involved. Messages left with Qatar’s consulate in New York and its sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, were not immediately returned.

No new charges have been added to the latest version of an indictment that already charged Menendez with a bribery conspiracy that allegedly enriched the senator and his wife with a luxury car in addition to the cash and gold. The allegations involving Qatar

is said to have

took place from 2021 to 2023.

Other parts of the indictment accuse Menendez, 70, and his wife, Nadine Menendez, of taking bribes from two other New Jersey businessmen in addition to Daibes. All have pleaded not guilty.

Menendez is accused, among other things, of writing a letter to fellow senators encouraging them to raise $300 million in aid to Egypt.

After his arrest in September, the senator gave up his position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has resisted calls to resign from his Senate seat.

The indictment provides new details about the relationship between Menendez and Daibes, a powerful New Jersey real estate developer.

Daibes is credited with building a series of luxury waterfront buildings known as the Gold Coast in the New Jersey town of Edgewater.

Along the way, he has cultivated cozy relationships with local officials, allowing him to chase away rival developers and renege on promises to build affordable housing, according to a New Jersey State Commission of Investigation report.

Daibes was already facing federal fraud charges when he was arrested in September on charges that he paid bribes to Menendez, a longtime friend. He was also accused of convincing a federal prosecutor to go easy on Daibes in his bank fraud case.

The indictment stated that while the Qatari investment company was considering its investment in Daibes’ real estate development, Menendez made multiple public statements supporting the Qatari government and then handed them over to Daibes so he could share them with the Qatari investor and a Qatari government official . .

In one case from August 2021, the indictment said, Menendez used an encrypted messaging application to send Daibes the text of a press release praising the Qatari government before texting Daibes: You might want to send them to them. I’m about to be released.

Two months later, Menendez and his wife returned from a trip to Qatar and Egypt and were picked up at the airport by Daibes’ driver, the complaint said. The next day, the report added, Menendez conducted an Internet search to determine how much a kilogram of gold is worth.

The Qatari Investment Co. signed a letter of intent in May 2022 to enter into a joint venture with a company controlled by Daibes, the indictment said. Afterwards, it added, Daibes gave Menendez at least one gold bar.

A search of Menendez’s residence turned up two 1-kilogram gold bars and nine 1-ounce gold bars with serial numbers showing they had previously been possessed by Daibes, along with approximately ten envelopes of cash containing tens of thousands of dollars containing the fingerprints or DNA. of Daibes, according to the indictment.

The revised indictment stated that a Qatari investment official also sent tickets to a Formula 1 car racing event to one of Nadine Menendez’s close relatives.

The indictment stated that Menendez failed to report any of the money or gold he or his spouse received, as required for a U.S. senator, on annual financial disclosure forms.

Judge Sidney H. Stein, who is presiding over the case, last week declined to extend a May 5 trial date after attorneys asked for more time to prepare.

In a letter to the judge late Tuesday, prosecutors said they would not oppose a delayed arraignment for the suspects or an arraignment by video.

Associated Press writers Jake Offenhartz and Mike Catalini contributed to this report.


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