Pro-Armenian senator Menendez steps down after indictment
Pro-Armenian US senator Robert Menendez has temporarily stepped down as head of the chamber's foreign relations committee as he battles bribery charges, News.Az reports citing BBC.
Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey has been charged in a federal corruption indictment, the authorities said on Friday.
The indictment against Menendez, a 69-year-old Democrat who leads the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, follows a lengthy investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan and comes nearly six years after his trial on unrelated claims of corruption ended with a hung jury.
During searches at the residence of Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian, who is of Armenian origin, over $400,000 in cash, gold bars, luxury cars, and furniture have been seized.
The U.S. Department of Justice investigation claims that a New Jersey-based food business frequently gave lavish gifts to Nadine Arslanian.
The investigation has uncovered that originally facing federal bank charges, Fred Daibes is now alleged to have provided Senator Menendez with these gold bars in exchange for assistance with his legal issues. This startup company secured a lucrative contract with the Egyptian government to conduct all halal inspections for the US, despite lacking prior experience in the field.
Interestingly, after negotiations with the US Attorney’s Office in New Jersey, Daibes, who initially faced a potential prison sentence of over a decade, ultimately received probation.
Investigators are working to determine whether Senator Menendez leveraged his position as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support the New Jersey company's bid in exchange for gifts.
Senator Menendez, a supporter of Armenia, is well known for making anti-Azerbaijani remarks that seek to sabotage the talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia on a possible peace treaty. While at the same time, this is not the first controversy involving the senator and his group. Also well known is the fact that he receives funding from the American Armenian lobby.