Federal prosecutors are probing whether scandal-plagued Senator Robert Menendez accepted gold bars from a corrupt businessman in exchange for help in a federal fraud investigation.
The Washington Free Beacon reported earlier this year that the New Jersey Democrat and his wife, businesswoman Nadine Arslanian, sold up to $400,000 in gold bullion last year. Menendez amended his financial disclosure in March 2022 to disclose he obtained the precious metal in 2020, the Free Beacon reported.
Now, the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan is reportedly investigating whether New Jersey businessman Fred Daibes arranged to give the gold to Menendez in exchange for the senator’s help in his federal bank fraud case. Prosecutors in New Jersey indicted Daibes in 2018 on 16 counts of conspiracy, loan application fraud, and filing false bank documents. He pleaded guilty to just one count of making false entries related to a $1.8 million loan. Prosecutors agreed to sentence Daibes to probation as part of the plea agreement, in a deal Daibes’s attorney said was a "favorable" outcome for his client.
It’s the latest bribery investigation into Menendez, who is up for reelection next year. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are reportedly considering corruption charges against the three-term senator for accepting bribes from the owner of a New Jersey-based halal food company. The investigation centers on whether Menendez helped the company obtain a license to certify halal meat exports to Egypt in exchange for jewelry, an apartment, and a Mercedes Benz.
Menendez was indicted in 2015 on bribery charges for allegedly accepting gifts and vacations from Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen. Prosecutors in that case alleged that Menendez intervened with the Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of Melgen in a $9 million Medicaid billing dispute. He also allegedly lobbied American diplomats to grant visas to Melgen’s foreign girlfriends. Menendez was acquitted in 2018. Melgen was sentenced to 17 years in prison for Medicaid fraud, but President Donald Trump commuted his sentence in 2021.
It is unclear who Menendez allegedly contacted on behalf of Daibes, a prominent Democratic donor who has given more than $18,000 to Menendez’s campaigns. Menendez has extensive ties to New Jersey U.S. attorney Philip Sellinger. Sellinger gave $1,000 in "home goods" to Menendez and Arslanian at their wedding in 2020, according to financial disclosures. He contributed $40,000 to Menendez's legal defense fund in relation to the Melgen case.
There is no indication that Menendez and Sellinger have discussed the Daibes case, but Sellinger has recused himself from the investigation.
Menendez’s office did not respond to a request for comment.