The second foreign nation that US Senator Bob Menendez is accused of improperly aiding is Qatar, where he is accused of receiving bribes in a recent federal indictment.
He is accused of a 2021–2023 corruption plan in the most recent charges.
The senator from New Jersey’s attorney referred to the accusations made by the Justice Department as “bizarre conjectures” and “baseless”.
The Democratic Mr. Menendez entered a not guilty plea in October to accusations that he had operated as an Egyptian agent abroad.
Despite increasing calls for his resignation, even from members of his own party, he has declined to stand down thus far.
According to the indictment made public on Tuesday, Mr. Menendez took gifts—including race tickets—in exchange for remarks endorsing the Qatari government.
Although there are no new accusations in the document, it does provide updated information about his and his wife Nadine Menendez’s alleged offences.
Mrs. Menendez has also entered a not guilty plea. She is accused of participating in the same alleged bribery and extortion plot.
As well, three businessmen from New Jersey listed in the complaint have refuted the allegations.
His tenure as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a position he resigned from following the initial charges in September, is included in the most recent claim, which extends the purported scheme by a full year.
Mr. Menendez, seventy, has refuted any misconduct.
According to the new accusation, he helped one of the accused businessmen, Fred Daibes, obtain an investment by allegedly endorsing Qatar in public remarks.
Tim Donohue, Mr. Daibes’ lawyer, told BBC News that his client was not immediately available for comment.
Prosecutors claim Mr. Menendez “made multiple public statements supporting the Government of Qatar” after introducing Mr. Daibes to an investor who is a member of the Qatari royal family.
He then gave Mr. Daibes the comments to utilise in persuading the unidentified Qatari monarch to contribute to his real estate venture in New Jersey.
“You should consider sending to them. In August 2021, Mr. Menendez allegedly texted Mr. Daibes, “I am just about to release,” alluding to a press release that featured positive remarks about Qatar.
A month or so later, Mr. Daibes and the senator went to an event in New York that the Qatari government was hosting.
A few days later, Mr. Daibes allegedly gave Senator Menendez pictures of watches that ranged in price from $9,990 to $23,990 (£7,900 to £19,000), with the question, “How about one of these?” according to the indictment.
“Greetings, I understand my friend is going to visit with you on the 15th of the month,” is what Mr. Menendez is said to have texted both Mr. Daibes and the Qatari investor in 2022, prior to their meeting in London.
“I hope that this will result in the favourable and mutually beneficial agreement that you have both engaged in discussing.”
The indictment claims that among the perks Mr. Menendez received from the Qataris were tickets to a Formula One Grand Prix race in Miami, Florida.
It also states that the senator looked up “how much is one kilo of gold worth” on the internet the day after arriving back from a trip to Qatar and Egypt and was picked up at the airport by Mr. Daibes vehicle.
Among the items found during the June 2022 search of the Menendez residence were two one-kilogram gold bars, which the government claims were given as part of the bribery scheme.
Additionally, hundreds of thousands of dollars in currency bearing Mr. Daibes’s DNA and fingerprints were found by agents.
In a statement, Mr. Menendez’s attorney, Adam Fee, said, “the government’s new allegations stink of desperation.”
The charges made by the prosecution, according to him, are all “based on routine, lawful contacts between a Senator and his constituents or foreign officials”.
“At all times, Senator Menendez acted entirely appropriately with respect to Qatar, Egypt, and the many other countries he routinely interacts with,” the attorney stated.