Home Markets The feds are investigating whether Menendez and wife received gifts including the DC apartment, Mercedes and jewelry

The feds are investigating whether Menendez and wife received gifts including the DC apartment, Mercedes and jewelry

by SuperiorInvest

The Ministry of Justice is investigating whether expensive gifts were given New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez and his wives, including a Mercedes-Benz, a luxury DC apartment, money and jewelry, sources familiar with the matter said.

According to the sources, investigators want to know whether the donations — which would be valued in the tens of thousands of dollars — came from the owner or associates of an Edgewater, N.J., business that won a controversial exclusive contract to perform Halal meat certification with the Egyptian government — even though U.S. Department of Agriculture officials have complained , that the company had no previous experience in this area.

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Questions about the gifts were first reported by WNBC and NBCNewyork.com.

“I’m sure it will end in absolutely nothing,” Menendez said last week, denying any wrongdoing in the ongoing federal corruption probe.

Sources familiar with the matter say Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, along with FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation agents are investigating whether the senator and his wife, Nadine Arslanian, improperly took donations from the owner or associates. IS EG Halal — and whether the senator took any action in return.

Menendeza Democrat, serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which helps oversee billions of dollars in aid to Egypt.

“Prosecutors would obviously want to see if the senator or someone close to him received money, apartments, cars in exchange for one of his official acts,” NBC News legal analyst Chuck Rosenberg said.

In addition to investigating any possible kickback scheme, sources familiar with the matter said IRS investigators are looking into whether the alleged donations were properly accounted for on the senator and his wife’s tax returns. None of the items appear on Menendez’s Senate forms.

Senate rules state, in part, that gifts to a member or someone close to them are considered gifts if the senator “has reason to believe that the gift was given because of an official position.”

A spokeswoman for Menendez declined to comment when asked if the senator or his wife received a Mercedes, free rent, money or jewelry from IS EG Halal or its associates. She referred NBC News to past statements in which the senator acknowledged the ongoing “investigation” and said that “should there be any official investigation, the senator is available to provide any assistance requested from him or his office.”

In 2019, IS EG Halal won an exclusive contract with the Egyptian government to certify Halal meat exports worldwide. The Egyptian government suddenly fired seven long-standing companies worldwide, and those firms lost millions in business to Edgewater, a firm run by a Christian with little prior experience in Islamic certification of international meat imports and exports.

Peter Paradis, a former deputy assistant inspector general at the USDA, said the change in contracts “defies logic.”

Paradis played no role in the current criminal investigation of the senator and his relationship with IS EG Halal. But Paradis points to past USDA reports on the controversy, including one that said IS EG Halal “has no prior relationship with the U.S. beef industry or Islamic organizations.”

“This company has no experience in carrying out these types of certifications – and yet the country in question singles them out as the only entity to carry out this task?” Paradis said.

A spokesman for Wael Han, the owner of IS EG Halal, denied this.

Sources familiar with the matter said that as part of an ongoing investigation, the FBI is looking into whether any IS EG executives or associates paid bribes to any Egyptian officials. USDA Foreign Agricultural Service officials based in Egypt turned over related documents to the Justice Department, the sources said.

“If representatives of this company were paying Egyptian officials for kickbacks, for favors, for business advantage, that’s a crime,” Rosenberg said. He explained that any such payment could violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

IS EG Halal said the firm won the contract on merit and denied any wrongdoing.

A spokeswoman said IS EG Halal won the contract “without any assistance from a US senator or any other US public official. Nor is there any evidence that the contract was awarded on the basis of bribery or corruption in Egypt – and no such thing ever happened. was even accused.”

A spokesman for the Egyptian embassy in Washington, DC, did not return several requests for comment.

Sources close to IS EG Halal said the owner, Hana, was a longtime friend of the senator’s wife — and that friendship existed long before she ever met the senator. One source familiar with the company said Arslanian had received gifts from the owner over the years, including jewelry.

Sources familiar with the matter said investigators want to know whether Egyptian officials knew of links between IS EG Halal and the senator’s wife and whether any Egyptian official tried to run a foreign influence operation linked to Menendez.

“A senator can certainly help someone in his state,” Rosenberg said. “They can make connections. They can arrange meetings. They can advocate for businesses within their jurisdictions. But they can’t take money or gifts in exchange for an official act.”

A spokesman for Sen. Menendez declined to comment on any of the allegations, citing an ongoing “investigation.”

In recent years, the US Supreme Court has issued a series of decisions narrowing the definition of public corruption. in 2018 Criminal charges against Menendez were dropped a jury trial ended after separate corruption. Allegations in that case were that Menendez took donations and free private jet trips from now-convicted Medicare fraudster Salomon Melgen.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams is overseeing this latest criminal investigation, according to sources and individuals who have received subpoenas. Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the US attorney’s office, declined to comment. An FBI spokesman and an IRS-CI spokesman also declined to comment.

That investigation of Menendez appears to have gained momentum in the past few weeks, after a new round of grand jury subpoenas were sent out, including one to North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacc. The new subpoenas do not appear to be related to any matter related to IS EG Halal, but to separate matters involving the senator and state legislation related to the proposed development agreement, people familiar with the matter said.

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