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Henry Cuellar US congressman wife charged taking $600,000 bribes

US congressman Henry Cuellar and his wife charged with accepting $600,000 in bribes. Denies charges. Could face decades in prison.

US Congressman Henry Cuellar and his wife have been accused of accepting approximately $600,000 in bribes by the Department of Justice. The allegations claim that the couple received money from an Azerbaijani government-owned oil company and a Mexican bank in a corrupt manner. Despite the charges, the Texas Democrat has denied any wrongdoing.

After appearing in court in Houston, the couple was released on bail. If convicted, they could potentially face lengthy prison sentences. Mr. Cuellar, 68, asserted his innocence in a statement, emphasizing that both he and his wife are not guilty of the accusations brought against them.

The charges against the couple include conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud, money laundering, and violating a ban on acting as agents of a foreign organization. The Justice Department revealed that the bribes were allegedly laundered between 2014 and 2021 through fake consulting contracts involving intermediaries and front companies owned by Imelda Cuellar, 67.

The indictment claims that in exchange for the money, Mr. Cuellar agreed to influence US foreign policy in favor of Azerbaijan and advocate for measures beneficial to the Mexican bank, such as changes to money-laundering laws and efforts to hinder regulation of the payday lending industry.

Similar charges have been brought against Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, and his wife, accusing them of accepting bribes to benefit Qatar and acting as illegal agents of Egypt.

Despite the legal challenges, Mr. Cuellar has vowed to continue his campaign for re-election in November. He sought legal advice from the House Ethics Committee and a national law firm before taking any actions in Congress, maintaining that his actions were in the best interest of the American people.

A former lawyer and customs broker, Mr. Cuellar has been serving in Congress since 2004 and previously co-chaired the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus. Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic party leader in the House of Representatives, announced that Mr. Cuellar would step down from his role on a homeland security subcommittee while the case unfolds.

In January 2022, authorities raided Mr. Cuellar's home and campaign office in Laredo as part of a federal investigation into connections between Azerbaijan and US businessmen. Widely regarded as a centrist, Mr. Cuellar narrowly survived a primary challenge in 2022 from a progressive candidate, Jessica Cisneros, who had previously interned in his office.

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