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U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar & Wife Charged With Accepting $600,000 In Bribes From Azerbaijani Oil & Gas Firm To Favorably Influence U.S. Foreign Policy

Official portrait of US Rep Henry Cuellar [Eric Connolly | U.S. House Office of Photography/Wikimedia Commons]

The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) has indicted longtime Democrat Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar and his wife, Imelda Cuellar, on charges of bribery and money laundering related to their ties with foreign entities, including an Azerbaijani-controlled oil and gas company and a bank in Mexico, as revealed on Friday, reports NBC News.


The indictment details that the Cuellars are accused of accepting about $600,000 in bribes from the aforementioned entities in exchange for the congressman performing official acts. These funds were laundered through sham consulting contracts, funneling through a series of front companies to shell companies owned by Imelda Cuellar. The DOJ said Imelda performed little to no legitimate work under these contracts.


According to the DOJ, Congressman Cuellar agreed to use his office to influence U.S. foreign policy in favor of Azerbaijan in exchange for the bribes. For the Mexican bank, he is accused of influencing legislative activity and pressuring high-ranking U.S. Executive Branch officials on measures beneficial to the bank.


This indictment follows a 2022 raid on Cuellar’s home and campaign office in Laredo, Texas, part of a broader federal investigation into connections between Azerbaijan and a group of U.S. businessmen. Despite initial statements from Cuellar’s lawyer in April indicating that he was not the target of the investigation, the current charges suggest a deepening legal predicament.


Cuellar, a former co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus, and his office reportedly sought advice on handling the indictment’s fallout from other congressional offices prior to the charges being publicized.


Cuellar denied any misconduct and affirmed his determination to continue his political career, stating, ‘Let me be clear, I’m running for re-election and will win this November.’


The congressman and his wife are each charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery of a federal official and to have a public official act as an agent of a foreign principal; two counts of bribery of a federal official; two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; two counts of violating the ban on public officials acting as agents of a foreign principal; one count of conspiracy to commit concealment money laundering; and five counts of money laundering.


If convicted, they could spend years or even decades in prison.

 

ⓒ 2024, ZARTONK

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