Wael Hana, one of three businessmen charged with coordinating bribes to Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey and his wife, was arrested after flying into New York. Hana, originally from Egypt and a resident of New Jersey, voluntarily returned from Egypt to have the opportunity to prove his innocence. He pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. Prosecutors allege that Menendez and his wife accepted bribes in exchange for using the senator’s power and influence to benefit Hana and the other businessmen, as well as Egypt’s government.
According to the indictment, the bribes included cash, gold bars, mortgage payments, and compensation. In June 2022, federal agents found over $480,000 in cash during a search of the Menendez couple’s home. It is alleged that Hana hired Nadine Menendez at his company, IS EG Halal Certified, for a “low-or-no-show” position, in exchange for the senator facilitating foreign military sales and financing to Egypt. Menendez also intervened to protect a monopoly for Hana’s company, which increased costs for U.S. meat suppliers and provided a revenue stream for the bribes.
Despite calls from nearly two dozen Senate Democrats for Menendez to step down, he has rejected those calls and maintains that he will be exonerated. The other two businessmen, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes, face the same charges as Hana. If convicted, Hana could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for bribery and 20 years in prison for fraud.