Scandal-plagued senator Robert Menendez and his wife sold hundreds of thousands of dollars in gold bullion that the New Jersey Democrat initially failed to disclose on his ethics filings, according to documents released Tuesday.
Menendez and his wife, businesswoman Nadine Arslanian, sold between $200,000 and $400,000 in gold from April 2022 and June 2022, according to Menendez’s annual financial disclosure. Menendez and Arslanian still own between $100,000 and $250,000 in gold bullion, which is gold usually kept in the form of bars or coins.
Menendez did not list the gold on his 2020 financial disclosure, but amended that filing in March 2022 to list between $100,000 and $250,000 of the precious metal held by Arslanian.
The timing of the sale could add a new wrinkle to an ongoing federal investigation into the New Jersey power couple. Menendez and Arslanian sold the bullion amid a probe into a New Jersey-based halal meat company whose owner is said to be longtime friends with Arslanian and has allegedly given her jewelry and other gifts in the past. FBI agents raided the home of IS EG Halal’s owner in 2019 as part of an investigation into whether the company paid bribes to secure licenses to export halal meat to Egypt. Menendez and Arslanian were first identified as targets of the investigation on Oct. 26, 2022. It is unclear when Menendez learned of the probe and if the gold bullion sales are related.
Prosecutors are reportedly investigating whether Menendez and Arslanian received luxury cars and a Washington, D.C., apartment in exchange for Menendez’s help in securing a contract for IS EG Halal to certify halal meat exported to Egypt. Menendez is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which oversees $2 billion in aid to Egypt.
There have been several discrepancies in Menendez’s disclosures of his wife’s gold holdings. Menendez did not initially disclose the gold in his annual filings for the year 2020. He amended his disclosure to add his wife’s gold bullion in March 2022, a month before she began selling the asset.
Menendez’s latest filing this week also raises questions about whether Arslanian owned more gold than the $100,000-$250,000 listed in previous disclosures. The latest filing suggests they owned between $300,000 and $650,000 in gold bullion.
Menendez’s office did not respond to questions about the gold bullion sales, how proceeds from the transactions were used, or discrepancies in the amount of gold they own. Menendez reportedly set up a legal defense fund earlier this year, and paid around $175,000 to lawyers from his campaign.
Menendez has denied wrongdoing, but it’s not the first time the Democrat has faced bribery allegations. He was indicted in 2015 on charges that he accepted cash bribes from disgraced eye doctor Salomon Melgen. Menendez traveled with Melgen to the Dominican Republic, Europe, and elsewhere, though was acquitted at trial.
Menendez has disclosed gifts from other scandal-plagued business associates, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Donald Scarinci and Raúl Alarcón, two longtime Menendez associates who testified for the defense at the senator's 2017 corruption trial, gave $2,000 each to Menendez and Arslanian at their wedding in 2020.
Scarinci, a New Jersey political operative, was recorded in 1999 asking a New Jersey psychiatrist to do "a favor" for Menendez in order to gain "protection" for a $1 million government contract.
In 2002, Menendez introduced legislation that would help Alarcón’s company, Spanish Broadcasting Systems, secure broadcast licenses. Menendez failed to disclose that he owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in shares of the company. In 2013, he intervened to block a merger between Spanish-language outlets that Alarcón publicly opposed.
New Jersey U.S. attorney Philip Sellinger gave $1,000 in "home goods" to Menendez and Arslanian, the disclosure said. Sellinger, who contributed $40,000 to Menendez's legal defense fund in his last corruption case, is not involved in the current investigation, which is being conducted by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan.