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senator bob menendez interrogates treasury official regarding the prevention of illicit finance just one month prior to his bribery trial 56

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Senator Bob Menendez interrogates Treasury official regarding the prevention of illicit finance just one month prior to his bribery trial

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Leo Gonzalez

April 29, 2024 - 12:45 pm

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Senator Menendez Questions Treasury Official on Illicit Finance

Context: Senator Bob Menendez recently questioned a Treasury Department official about efforts to combat illegal finance, raising concerns about foreign influence in the litigation finance industry. This inquiry comes as Menendez faces a bribery trial next month.

Menendez's Concerns: During a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Senator Menendez expressed worries about the exploitation of the litigation finance sector by foreign entities. He specifically referenced a Bloomberg Law report highlighting Russian billionaires funding bankruptcy lawsuits in New York, despite sanctions imposed after the Ukraine invasion. Additionally, Menendez criticized the Biden administration for its apparent inability to prevent Iran, despite existing sanctions, from selling oil to countries like China, potentially converting proceeds into cryptocurrencies.

Treasury Official's Response: Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo responded, acknowledging the challenges in preventing Iran from accessing funds through traditional financial channels. He stressed the need for congressional action to address the growing use of cryptocurrencies by sanctioned actors.

Republican Criticism: Republican senators on the committee criticized the Biden administration's 2023 deal to unfreeze $6 billion of Iranian funds for humanitarian aid, arguing it could indirectly support hostile actions. Adeyemo clarified that these funds have not been transferred to Iran and will not directly benefit the Iranian government.

Upcoming Trial: Senator Menendez is scheduled to stand trial on nearly 20 criminal counts related to allegations of accepting bribes in exchange for assisting businessmen. He maintains his innocence, with his trial set to begin on May 6. His wife and two businessmen will also face trial, while a fifth defendant has already pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

Accusations Against Menendez: Among the charges, Menendez is accused of providing confidential U.S. government information to aid Egypt, as well as pressuring a U.S. Department of Agriculture official to protect a business monopoly in Egypt. These accusations led to Menendez stepping down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee following his indictment in September.

Summary: Senator Menendez's questioning of a Treasury official highlights concerns about illicit finance and foreign influence, coinciding with his upcoming bribery trial. The trial, set to commence in May, involves multiple allegations against Menendez, his wife, and associates, prompting broader discussions about government accountability and foreign policy implications.