Introductionscroll to contents
In September 2023 an indictment of US senator and chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations chair Robert “Bob” Menendez, his wife Nadine Menendez (née Arslanian), and three businessmen, including the Egyptian-American, Wael “Will” Hanan became public. Most of the information presented here comes from the indictment. Allegedly, the couple received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from the businessmen. In exchange, Menendez was to use his power and influence to seek to protect the three businessmen and benefit the government of Egypt, including support with foreign military (i.e. arms) sales and financing. The case earned its popular title of the “Halal meat scandal” due to the fact that bribes were being funnelled through a company that was awarded the monopoly on the certification of halal meat imports from the United States to Egypt.
The indictment focuses on the relationship between Nadine & Robert Menendez, the businessmen, and Egyptian officials. Arms sales are one part of the wider corruption allegations. The three military sales approvals mentioned below for tank rounds, planes, and air defence systems are referenced in the document, however, no allegations were made against the companies selling these weapons.
Case detailsscroll to contents
Dramatis Personaescroll to contents
Robert “Bob” Menendez - US Democratic Senator from New Jersey, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee until September 22, 2023.
Nadine Menendez, formerly Arslanian - Married to Robert Menendez since 2020, Founder of the consulting company, “Strategic International Business Consultants”.
Wael “Will” Hana - Egyptian-born American operating New-Jersey-based Halal meat certification company IS EG Halal Certified, Inc. with close connections to Egyptian officials. A long-time friend of Nadine Mendendez’s.
Fred Daibes - Palestinian-American Real Estate Developer based in New Jersey
Jose Uribe - New Jersey Businessman previously convicted of fraud, business associate and friend of Wael Hana.
Various Unnamed Egyptian Officials - Egyptian officials involved remain unnamed in the 2023 indictment, at least one has been speculated to be Abbas Kamel, Chief of Egyptian Intelligence.
Summary of Corruption Allegationsscroll to contents
According to an indictment, which became public in September 2023, the U.S. Democratic Senator Robert Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez (formerly Arslanian), were implicated in a corruption case involving three businessmen: Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes. Senator Menendez has held key positions in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including being the “ranking member” and later the Chairman since 2021. Allegedly, the Menendezs accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for Senator Menendez’s leveraging his political power and influence to benefit the three businessmen and Egypt. These bribes included cash, gold, mortgage payments, and remuneration for a low-or-no-show job, and a luxury car. Senator Menendez’s purported misuse of his influence and official duties is central to the allegations. As a matter of voluntary practice the State Department, which has to authorise foreign military sales and financing, would typically not proceed with such transfers unless the chairman or ranking member of the foreign relations committee had not signed off on them. This gave Menendez substantial influence over military sales to Egypt, especially as Egypt often faces resistance to military financing and sales due to the government’s poor human rights record and lack of democratic governance.
Shortly after Nadine and Robert began dating in 2018, Wael Hana and Nadine Arslanian (now Menendez) arranged a series of meetings and dinners with the senator, paid for by Hana and his associates. During these meetings, Egyptian officials raised requests related to military sales and financing. In exchange for putting Nadine Arslanian (Menendez) on the payroll of his company for a low-or-no-show job, Senator Menendez agreed to use his power and authority to facilitate such sales and financing to Egypt.
Moreover, Senator Menendez is alleged to have shared non-public information concerning US military aid to Egypt and details about US embassy staff in the country to Egyptian officials. It is also claimed that Menendez secretly edited and ghost-wrote a lobbying letter to other US senators intended to release a hold on USD 300 million in aid to Egypt, at the request of Egyptian officials referred to as the “General”. Following one of these meetings, Hana shared information from Menendez with Egyptian officials, indicating that he would sign off on the sale of 46,000 120 MM target practice rounds and 10,000 rounds of tank ammunition worth USD 99 million the same day. On another occasion, Nadine Menendez informed Hana that her husband had to “sign off” on two arms sales worth a total of approx. USD 2.5 billion, likely referring to the C-130J and air defence systems sales.
In a separate instance, the couple provided the Egyptians with publicly available information on questions that would be posed to a senior Egyptian official by US senators on human rights matters to help them prepare their rebuttal.
Hana allegedly made repeated commitments to pay Ms. Arslanian (Menendez) through a low-or-no-show job with his company IS EG Halal Certified, Inc. However, the company had little to no revenue and Hana initially did not deliver on his promises. Then, a significant turning point occurred in early 2019 the Egyptian government granted the company an exclusive monopoly to certify products imported from the United States to Egypt.
When the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) objected to this after the process raised costs for US companies, Menendez allegedly tried to convince a high-level US Department of Agriculture (USDA) official that the objection should be withdrawn. To their credit, the official did not accede to the demand. Between late August and early November of 2019, IS EG Halal issued three checks of USD 10,000 each to Nadine Arslanian’s (Menendez) consultancy firm. Additionally, in July 2019, they paid USD 23,000 to bring her mortgage up to date. The indictment alleges that Wael Hana and Fred Daibes provided multiple things of value to Robert and Nadine Menendez in exchange for their commitments.
The connection between Senator Menendez and these businessmen extended beyond matters of military sales. In 2019, Senator Menendez allegedly tried to interfere in the prosecution of an associate of Jose Uribe’s in New Jersey in exchange for a Mercedes convertible. His then-girlfriend Nadine Arslanian (Menendez) was in need of a car after an accident in which she struck and killed a pedestrian, Richard Koop, 49, while driving her previous Mercedes-Benz in Bogota, New Jersey. Hana is alleged to have been involved in these discussions, while also helping procure the Mercedes. Additionally, Mendendez is said to have interfered in the prosecution of Fred Daibes. Notably, Menendez specifically suggested a candidate to the US President for the office of US Attorney for the District of New Jersey who Menendez thought could influence Daibes’ case in his favour. This plan ultimately failed as the candidate suggested by Menendez recused himself from the Daibes case.
The specific details of the last set of allegations are not included in the timeline below but can be found in the indictment.
Timelinescroll to contents
- Nov 2017
Senator Menendez’s first corruption trial over unrelated charges ends with a hung jury.
Menendez wins re-election to a third term as a member of the United States Senate to represent the state of New Jersey.
- Feb 2018
Nadine and Robert start dating.
From the time Nadine Arslanian (Menendez) informs Wael Hana that she was dating Senator Menendez, Hana and Nadine allegedly spent the following years working to introduce Menendez to Egyptian intelligence and military officials.
- Mar 2018
Menendez meets with an unnamed Egyptian military official in a meeting arranged and attended by Arslanian and Hana.
- 6 May 2018
Menendez, Arslanian, and Hana reconvene, and during this meeting Menendez reportedly requests from the State Department non-public details concerning the quantity and nationality of persons serving at the US embassy in Cairo. Menendez shared this information with Hana via Arslanian who forwarded it to another Egyptian official.
- May 2018
Hana hosts another dinner at a high-end restaurant during which Menendez disclosed non-public information about US military aid to Egypt, after which Hana shared the message that, “The ban on small arms and ammunition to Egypt has been lifted. That means sales can begin. That will include sniper rifles among other articles.” with an Egyptian official.
- May 2018
Nadine Arslanian (Menendez) relays a request from an Egyptian official referred to by her as the “General” to Menendez. The request sought assistance in editing and drafting a lobby letter to US senators to release a hold on USD 300 million in aid to Egypt, which Menendez ended up ghost-writing, sharing the draft via Aslanian and Hana back to Egyptian officials.
- Jul 2018
Mr. Menendez meets again with Egyptian military officials to discuss military sales and financing, again the meeting was organized by Arslanian and Hana, who provided Menendez with briefing materials from the Egyptian government beforehand. The next day Menendez told Arslanian to tell Hana that he would sign off on a sale of 46,000 120 MM target practice rounds and 10,000 rounds of tank ammunition worth USD 99 million on the same day. These were forwarded by Hana to Egyptian officials.
- 30 Oct 2018
Around this time, Hana connects Uribe and Nadine Arslanian (Mendendez) and Senator Menendez.
- Apr 2019
The government of Egypt grants IS EG Halal an exclusive monopoly on the certification of US food exports to Egypt as compliant with halal standards, despite the fact that neither Hana nor his company had experience with halal certification. According to reporting in the New York Times, Hana himself is a Christian. The monopoly contributed to a price increase of over 32% on beef liver sold in Egypt in the next two months in a country already affected by widespread poverty.
- Apr 2019
In April or May, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) contacted the government of Egypt objecting to and seeking reconsideration of its granting of monopoly rights to IS EG Halal, after the monopoly had resulted in increased costs for various US meat suppliers.
- Jun 2019
Nadine Arslanian (Menendez) starts an international consulting company. A law firm, run by a longtime friend of Mr. Menendez, who files the incorporation papers for the company, Strategic International Business Consultants, on the same day that a lender began foreclosure proceedings on the split-level home in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., where she and Mr. Menendez now live, according to records quoted by the New York Times. According to the indictment, the company Strategic International Business Consultants, LLC, was used to receive bribe payments.
- Jul 2019
After Nadine Arslanian’s (Menendez’s) mortgage company initiated foreclosure proceedings, Hana’s IS EG Halal paid approximately USD 23,000 to bring her mortgage current.
- 30 Aug 2019
IS EG Halal issued three checks worth USD 10,000 directly to Arslanian’s (Menendez) consultancy company dated August 30, September 28, and November 05.
- Sep 2019
Nadine Arslanian (Menendez) texted Fred Daibes complaining that Hana had not paid her what he owed her, to which Daibes replied that he personally gave “Bob” [presumably Robert Menendez] a check for September.
- Sep 2019
Robert Menendez allegedly offered to provide assistance to Egypt and Hana during an official trip to India. In meetings later that month, Menendez promised to take actions favourable to Egypt through 2020 to 2022 in exchange for things of value. The indictment details several instances in which message exchanges and meetings preceded actions from Senator Menendez on behalf of the Egyptians.
- Oct 2019
Nadine and Robert get engaged.
- Oct 2020
Nadine and Robert get married.
In early 2021, Hana and IS EG Halal gift two exercise machines and an air purifier, together worth thousands of dollars, to the Menendez house.
- 21 Jun 2021
Nadine Menendez and an Egyptian official arrange a private meeting between Robert Menendez and a senior Egyptian intelligence official prior to them meeting other US senators. The official is referred to by the indictment as “Egyptian Official-5”. It has been suggested that the official could be Abbas Kamel, Chief of Egyptian Intelligence, who was reported visiting Washington and meeting members of the Foreign Relations Committee that week. Mr. Menendez provided Ms. Menendez with a copy of a news article reporting on questions other US senators intended to ask the official regarding a human rights issue, which Ms. Menendez forwarded to an Egyptian official stating she hoped the article would be useful to prepare a rebuttal.
- 23 Jun 2021
Hana purchased 22 one-ounce gold bars. Two of them were later found in Mendendez's residence.
- Oct 2021
The Menendez’s visit Egypt (on a trip that was initially meant to be unofficial but became official after a Senate Foreign Relations Staffer contacted the US embassy in Cairo). During the trip, the Menendez’s met with multiple Egyptian officials, including a private dinner at the home of what is speculated to be Abbas Kamel. They returned on October 17th.
- Jan 2022
Nadine Menendez forwards a news article on two pending foreign military sales to Egypt totalling approximately USD 2.5 billion from Senator Menendez to Hana writing “Bob had to sign off on this.” The arms sales referred to are most likely the sale of L3 Harris' Air Defense Radar Systems and the sale of 12 C-130J-30 Super Hercules Aircraft.
Investigation Outcomesscroll to contents
- Nov 2019
Federal agents search Mr. Hana’s home and office. A search of a cell phone used by him revealed thousands of text messages between Hana and Nadine Arslanian (Menendez), which she allegedly deleted from her own cell phone.
- Jun 2022
Federal agents search Menendez's residence in New Jersey around June, discovering over USD 480,000 in cash, “much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe” along with over USD 70,000 in Nadine Menendez’s safe deposit box.
Fred Daibes pleads guilty to a single count of making false entries in connection with a loan document. Daibes’ sentencing has been delayed four times as of September 2023.
- Sep 2023
Senator Robert Menendez, his wife, and three business executives are indicted on federal bribery and corruption charges. Menendez and his wife reject the charges. All five defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. Senator and Ms. Menendez are also charged with conspiracy to commit extortion as a public official.
- 22 Sep 2023
The indictment against Robert and Nadine Menendez and the three businessmen becomes public. Robert Menendez steps down as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
- 26 Sep 2023
Wael Hana surrenders and is arrested and pleads not guilty before a magistrate judge. All of his shares in his Halal export business Capital Management EG have been seized as collateral for his release.
- 27 Sep 2023
Robert and Nadine Menendez plead “not guilty” before a Manhattan court and are released on bail.
- 30 Sep 2023
The new chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Senator Ben Cardin decides to put a hold on USD 235 million in military aid to Egypt in the aftermath of the indictment
- 2 Oct 2023
All five defendants in the case are scheduled to appear in court on the 6th May 2024.
Referencesscroll to contents
Hammer, Alex. ‘Egyptian Businessman Accused of Bribing Sen. Bob Menendez Arrested’. Mail Online, 27 September 2023, sec. News. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12564401/Egyptian-businessman-accused-bribing-Sen-Bob-Menendez-arrested-JFK.html.
Stein, Perry, Devlin Barrett, and Isaac Stanley-Becker. ‘Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey Indicted on Federal Bribery Charges’. Washington Post, 22 September 2023. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/09/22/menendez-indictment/.
Tully, Tracey. ‘These Are the Key Players in the Case Against Senator Menendez’. The New York Times, 22 September 2023, sec. New York. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/22/nyregion/who-is-robert-menendez.html.
United States District Court Souther District of New York. Sealed Indictment - United States of America v. Robert Mendez, Nadine Mendez, Wael Hana, Juose Uribe, and Red Daibes. Accessed 25 September 2023. Accessed 25 September 2023 https://www.washingtonpost.com/documents/ae4af59e-0429-4d48-b89f-0ee6a6a6edca.pdf?itid=lk_inline_manual_5