Oh The Irony! Sen. Bob Menendez Grills Treasury On THIS One Month Before Trial

By Maria Angelino | Wednesday, 10 April 2024 12:00 PM
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In a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Tuesday, Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, interrogated Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo regarding the regulation of illicit finance.

This comes as Menendez is set to face trial in May alongside his wife and two other individuals on charges of federal bribery.

Menendez expressed his apprehension about the potential misuse of the litigation finance industry by foreign entities. He referenced a Bloomberg Law report that revealed Russian billionaires, who are closely linked to President Vladimir Putin and have been sanctioned following Ukraine's invasion, have been funding bankruptcy lawsuits in New York.

The senator also criticized the Biden administration for its failure to prevent Iran from selling its oil to organizations in countries such as China under the current sanctions. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that you can convert those dollars into cryptocurrency and other forms in order to ultimately have access to them," Menendez stated.

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Adeyemo responded by saying that it is nearly impossible for Iran to access the money from its oil sales through the traditional financial system. However, he emphasized the need for congressional action to prevent malevolent actors from bypassing sanctions through the use of cryptocurrencies. "We fear that without congressional action to provide us with necessary tools, the use of virtual assets by these actors will only grow," Adeyemo said in his opening statement.

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The committee's Republican senators criticized the Biden administration for its 2023 agreement to release $6 billion of Tehran's frozen funds for humanitarian aid in return for the liberation of political prisoners in Iran. "Iran is not our friend. Venezuela is not our friend, President Biden keeps giving them money to buy weapons to try to kill us," Senator John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, remarked.

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Adeyemo clarified that the funds, which were frozen following Hamas' terrorist attack on Israel, have not been transferred to Iran. "None of that money has gone to Iran, and that money is not going to go directly to Iran," Adeyemo asserted.

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Menendez is facing nearly 20 criminal charges related to allegedly accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, gold bars, and other luxury items in exchange for assisting three businessmen with their transactions. He has pleaded not guilty. His wife, Nadine Menendez, and two of the businessmen, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, will be tried alongside him. The fifth defendant, Jose Uribe, has already pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the prosecutors.

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Among other allegations, the senator is accused of providing sensitive U.S. government information that covertly assisted the Egyptian government and pressuring a U.S. Department of Agriculture official to safeguard a business monopoly in Egypt. Menendez served as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee until his indictment in September.

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