The Justice Department is investigating Senator Robert Menedez (D-NJ) over expensive gifts that were given to him and his wife, including a luxury apartment in DC, a Mercedes-Benz, cash, and jewelry, as part of a possible quid-pro-quo bribery scheme with a New Jersey-based company, NBC News reported.
Sources familiar with the DOJ probe told NBC News that investigators want to know if the gifts came from the owner or associates of an Edgewater, New Jersey business that secured an exclusive contract with the Egyptian government to perform Halal meat certification.
The company was awarded the contract despite officials from the Department of Agriculture complaining that it had no prior experience.
Senator Menendez denied any wrongdoing, saying last week that he was certain the investigation would ultimately show “absolutely nothing.”
According to sources, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams and agents from the FBI and the IRS-Criminal Investigation are looking into whether Menendez and his wife Nadine Arslanian improperly accepted gifts worth tens of thousands of dollars from the owner or associates of IS EG Halal and if Menendez did any favors in return.
Menendez is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which helps to oversee billions in aid to Egypt.
In addition to looking into a possible quid-pro-quo scheme, IRS criminal investigators are also looking into whether the senator and his wife accounted for the luxury gifts on their tax filings. According to NBC News, none of the gifts were included on Menendez’s Senate disclosure forms.
A spokeswoman for the senator refused to comment on whether Menendez or his wife received the gifts. Instead, she referred NBC News to previous statements from the senator in which he acknowledged the ongoing probe and said he would cooperate with investigators.
IS EG Halal denied that Senator Menendez helped it obtain the contract with Egypt. A spokeswoman told NBC News that the company won the contract without assistance from Senator Menendez “or any other U.S. public official.” The spokeswoman said there is no evidence “whatsoever” that the company secured the contract through “bribery or corruption in Egypt.”