Democratic Lawmaker Henry Cuellar And Wife Accused of Accepting $600K In Bribes: '...Are Innocent Of These Allegations,' Says Congressman

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and his wife, Imelda Cuellar, have been charged with accepting approximately $600,000 in bribes from an Azerbaijani government-owned oil company and a Mexican bank, the Justice Department announced on Friday.

What Happened: The Cuellars were charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud, money laundering, and violating a ban on acting as agents of a foreign organization.

The Justice Department alleged that the bribes were laundered from 2014-21 through a series of “sham consulting contracts” via middlemen and front companies owned by Imelda Cuellar. 

“According to court documents, beginning in at least December 2014 and continuing through at least November 2021, Congressman Cuellar and Imelda Cuellar allegedly accepted approximately $600,000 in bribes from two foreign entities: an oil and gas company wholly owned and controlled by the Government of Azerbaijan, and a bank headquartered in Mexico City,” the department stated.

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“In exchange for the bribes paid by the Azerbaijani oil and gas company, Congressman Cuellar allegedly agreed to use his office to influence U.S. foreign policy in favor of Azerbaijan,” the department said.

Adding, “In exchange for the bribes paid by the Mexican bank, Congressman Cuellar allegedly agreed to influence legislative activity and to advise and pressure high-ranking U.S. Executive Branch officials regarding measures beneficial to the bank.”

The Texas Democrat refuted the allegations in a released statement. Following their court appearance in Houston, the couple was granted bail. Should they be convicted, they may potentially endure decades behind bars, reported BBC.

“I want to be clear that both my wife and I are innocent of these allegations,” the Congressman said on Friday.

Why It Matters: Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), faced similar charges last year. He and his wife were indicted on criminal bribery charges for allegedly maintaining a “corrupt relationship” with three New Jersey businessmen.

The indictment alleged that Menendez and his wife received “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in bribes and used the senator’s influence to enrich several businessmen from New Jersey and the Egyptian government.

“Over $480,000 in cash — much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe—was discovered in the home, along with over $70,000 in Nadine Menendez’s safe deposit box,” the indictment said, at the time.

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Disclaimer: This content was partially produced with the help of AI tools and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.

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