The FBI is conducting a counterintelligence investigation to determine if Egypt’s intelligence services were involved in a bribery scheme described in the indictment of Senator Bob Menendez and his wife. The investigation is separate from the federal corruption case accusing Menendez of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. Menendez, as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, played a role in overseeing American aid to Egypt. Investigators are looking into whether Egyptian intelligence officials or their associates attempted to gain access to Menendez through his wife. Three New Jersey-based businessmen accused of providing bribes to Menendez are also being investigated.
The three businessmen named as co-defendants, Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes, are alleged to have bribed Menendez with lavish gifts, including a Mercedes-Benz convertible worth over $60,000. Hana’s lawyer denied any ties Hana may have to Egyptian intelligence and claimed that Hana and Menendez’s wife have been friends for years. Each defendant is charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. Menendez and his wife also face an additional charge of conspiracy to commit extortion under the color of official right. Menendez has denied the charges and resisted calls to resign. The Egyptian Embassy has not commented on the investigation.
Frank Figliuzzi, a former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, explained that Menendez’s position on the Foreign Relations Committee made him vulnerable to foreign intelligence services seeking favorable decisions on funding and military equipment. The timing of Menendez’s marriage is also being examined, as it could indicate an attempt to maintain plausible deniability regarding any illicit transactions. Menendez’s Senate office and Nadine Menendez’s lawyer have not responded to requests for comment.