The New Jersey Senator has been formally charged
Bob Menendez AFP

Senator Bob Menendez and his wife are still in hot water in the case that has seen them accused of being involved in a wide-ranging bribery scheme. Now, new evidence has arisen regarding the use of gold bars, one of the methods of payment allegedly received.

In a new set of court papers reported by NBC, prosecutors alleged that Nadine Menendez, the senator's wife, told a "a false cover story" to a jeweler, "claiming that the gold had come from her deceased mother." A staffer for Bob Menendez gave a similar explanation.

However, the FBI has said that at least some of the gold bars were bribe payments to the senator. They were allegedly given by Fred Daibes, a New Jersey developer who wanted Menendez to pressure the state's attorney's office to be lenient in the context of a bank fraud case. Two of the gold bars Menendez had in his house had previously belonged to Daibes.

Menendez and his wife also allegedly accepted cash, a luxury car, mortgage payments and other items of value as part of the scheme.

This is not the only case in which Menendez is a defendant. He is also accused of accepting bribes from Wael Hana, a man who wanted help securing a contract with the Egyptian government.

Menendez, who was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee until his indictment in September, is accused of using his position to influence deals on Hana's favor.

Menendez's wife is also involved in the scheme that includes Hana. She stands accused of communicating requests and directives from Egyptian officials to the senator, whose parents hailed from Cuba. The Department of Justice requires all people, companies and other entities who act on behalf of foreign governments to enter a register.

In early January, Menendez was also accused of introducing a member of the Qatari royal family member and prominent figure in the country's investment fund to Fred Daibes before the company invested millions in his real estate project.

Menendez has denied any wrongdoing and used his Latin heritage to deflect criticism as his Capital Hill colleagues call on him to resign.

"Those behind this campaign simply cannot accept that a first-generation Latino American from humble beginnings could rise to be a U.S. Senator and serve with honor and distinction," said Menendez. Even worse, they see me as an obstacle in the way of their broader political goals."

Menéndez and the other defendants could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the initial charges. The figure could increase if they were to be found guilty of the new ones.

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