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Monday, December 4, 2023

The Senator, the Halal Meat Mogul, and the Gold Bullion: A Bribery Scandal in New Jersey

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The investigation into Senator Robert Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian, is ongoing, but federal prosecutors have accused the couple of accepting bribes in exchange for official actions by Mr. Menendez.

One of the key pieces of evidence in the case is a series of gold bullion bars that Arslanian allegedly sold for up to $400,000 in 2022. Prosecutors believe that the gold was a gift from a New Jersey businessman who was seeking Menendez’s help in obtaining a license to certify halal meat exports to Egypt.

The businessman, who has not been publicly identified, is also accused of giving the Menendezes other gifts, including jewelry, an apartment, and a Mercedes Benz. In exchange, prosecutors say, Menendez lobbied the Trump administration on the businessman’s behalf and pressured Egyptian officials to grant him the license.

The Menendezes have denied any wrongdoing, but they have faced mounting legal pressure in recent months. In September 2023, a federal grand jury in Manhattan indicted Menendez on three counts of corruption, including bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery, and honest services fraud.

The investigation into the Menendezes is part of a broader crackdown on corruption in New Jersey politics. In recent years, several other New Jersey politicians have been convicted of corruption charges, including former Governor Chris Christie’s top aide, Bridget Anne Kelly.

The Menendez case has also drawn attention to the issue of foreign influence in American politics. The businessman who is accused of bribing the Menendezes has close ties to the Egyptian government, and some experts have raised concerns that he may have been trying to influence U.S. policy on Egypt.

The outcome of the Menendez case is still uncertain, but it has the potential to shake up New Jersey politics and send a strong message to other politicians who are considering engaging in corrupt behavior.

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