Henry Cuellar: US congressman and wife charged with taking $600,000 in bribes

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US Congressman Henry Cuellar and his wife have been accused of accepting approximately $600,000 (£478,000) in bribes, as stated by the Justice Department. Allegations suggest that the couple unlawfully received money from an Azerbaijani government-owned oil company and a Mexican bank.

Although the Texas Democrat, Mr. Cuellar, has denied the charges in a statement, both he and his wife were granted bail after their court appearance in Houston. If convicted, they could potentially face lengthy prison sentences. Mr. Cuellar, aged 68, emphasized his innocence in the face of these accusations.

The couple faces multiple charges, including conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud, money laundering, and violating restrictions on acting as agents of a foreign entity. The Justice Department indicated that the alleged bribes were funneled between 2014 and 2021 through a series of “sham consulting contracts” involving intermediaries and front companies owned by Imelda Cuellar, aged 67.

The indictment claims that in exchange for the money, Mr. Cuellar purportedly agreed to influence US foreign policy favoring Azerbaijan and support measures beneficial to the Mexican bank, such as influencing money-laundering regulations and impeding payday lending industry oversight.

The Cuellars are said to have used the illicit funds to settle debts and make purchases for their family, including substantial amounts on credit card payments, car payments, wholesale purchases, and a custom gown.

Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, is facing similar charges related to alleged bribery involving the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

Despite the accusations, Mr. Cuellar expressed his commitment to continue campaigning for re-election in November in a statement released by his office.

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