Federal prosecutors are currently investigating whether a convicted felon played a role in facilitating the transfer of gold bars valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars to New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez or his spouse, in return for assistance.
Investigators are keen to ascertain whether Menendez may have extended an offer to engage the Justice Department on behalf of an individual facing allegations of bank fraud. These inquiries are currently under review by a federal grand jury in Manhattan, which is evaluating the potential filing of corruption charges against the senior New Jersey senator.
Insiders reveal that witnesses are presently providing testimony before this federal grand jury. A portion of the investigation revolves around the senator’s connections to Fred Daibes, a New Jersey developer and former bank chairman.
Officials from the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation are exploring whether Daibes or his associates presented gold bars to Senator Menendez’s wife, Nadine Arslanian, with an estimated value of up to $400,000.
At the time of the gifting of these gold bars, Daibes was facing federal charges related to bank fraud, carrying a potential sentence of up to ten years in federal prison.
Menendez’s wife liquidated gold bars valued at potentially up to $400,000 in spring, notwithstanding her prior foreclosure from just three years ago.
This transaction occurred several months prior to the senator’s public acknowledgment from his office that the New Jersey Democrat was under a fresh federal investigation. Menendez had earlier evaded a conviction for bribery and fraud charges after a federal judge declared a mistrial in late 2017.
Arslanian, aged 56, completed the sale of the gold bars between April 7, 2022, and June 16, 2022, as indicated in the senator’s annual public financial disclosures. This sum equates to as much as 13 pounds of pure gold.
Individuals familiar with the situation indicate that federal prosecutors are inquiring about Menendez’s potential involvement in aiding Daibes with his criminal case by reaching out to officials within the Justice Department regarding the matter.
Legal experts suggest that if the senator did offer his assistance in exchange for valuable gifts, such actions could potentially constitute a criminal offense.
But NBC legal analyst Danny Cevallos noted that it does not legally matter if Menendez aided Daibes or not.
“For purposes of the Federal Extortion Act, it makes no difference if the senator took an official act so long as he accepted the money and there was knowledge the money was in exchange for that official influence, even if he never carried out what he had promised he would do,” he said.