Democrat Indicted In Bribery and Money Laundering Scheme

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Henry Cueller

Texas Democrat, Rep. Henry Cuellar, and his wife have found themselves facing charges after being accused of taking bribes then moving the money through laundering operations.

On Friday, federal prosecutors indicted Cuellar for receiving substantial kickbacks from an Azerbaijani state-owned oil enterprise and a bank based in Mexico. The amount is allegedly at least $600,000 dollars.

According to a press release from the Justice Department, “The bribe payments were allegedly laundered, pursuant to sham consulting contracts, through a series of front companies and middlemen into shell companies owned by Imelda Cuellar, who performed little to no legitimate work under the contracts.”

The DOJ alleges that in return for financial incentives from the Azerbaijani energy firm, Cuellar promised to leverage his political influence to sway U.S. foreign policy in Azerbaijan’s favor.

Similarly, the funds from the Mexican bank purportedly bought the congressman’s efforts to pressure U.S. Executive Branch officials and influence legislative actions that would be beneficial to the financial institution.

Cuellar and his wife claimed their innocence and entered a not guilty plea in a federal court in Houston, before being released on bond set at $100,000 on Friday morning.

The 14-count indictment accused Cuellar of advocating for Azerbaijan over Armenia, citing a speech he delivered before congress in the country’s favor.

He’s also accused of promising to derail federal oversight of predatory lending practices and pressuring executive branch officials to lessen anti-money laundering enforcement practices that could harm the Mexican Bank.

The charges against Henry and Imelda Cuellar pose a serious risk of prison time greater than ten years.

Before the charges went public, Henry Cuellar made a preemptive declaration of innocence, stating, “I want to be clear that both my wife and I are innocent of these allegations. Everything I have done in Congress has been to serve the people of South Texas.”

He insisted that his congressional actions, vetted by legal advisors and in line with advice he received from the House Ethics Committee.

“The actions I took in Congress were consistent with the actions of many of my colleagues and in the interest of the American people,” the Texas Democrat defended.

Following Cuellar’s indictment, Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) is reported to be taking over his role in a key House subcommittee responsible for Homeland Security funding.

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