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House of Representatives |  An elected official in Texas is accused of bribery and money laundering

House of Representatives | An elected official in Texas is accused of bribery and money laundering

(WASHINGTON) – Federal prosecutors charged a U.S. congressman on Friday with bribery and money laundering in connection with a Mexican bank and a state-owned Azerbaijani oil company, U.S. authorities said.

The Texas Democrat elected to the House of Representatives, Henry Cuellar, accepted nearly $600,000 to represent the interests of the bank and the company in question over a period of seven years, until at least November 2021, according to the indictment.

“In exchange for bribes paid by the Azerbaijani oil and gas company, Rep. Cuellar allegedly agreed to use his position to influence U.S. foreign policy to the benefit of Azerbaijan,” the Justice Department said in a press release.

As for the Mexican bank, Henry Cuellar “would have agreed to influence legislative activity, advise and lobby senior officials in the US executive branch” to obtain “favorable measures” for this bank.

According to the ministry, the payments were laundered through shell companies belonging to the elected official's wife, Imelda Cuellar, who is also accused.

The couple appeared before judicial authorities on Friday before being released on bail. In all, they each face more than a dozen charges.

In a statement, Henry Cuellar denied committing any crime against his wife, saying that he had always acted “in the interest of the American people.”

He stressed that this will not prevent him from running again in the legislative elections, which will be held simultaneously with the presidential elections on the fifth of next November. The latter must pit Democrat Joe Biden against Republican Donald Trump.

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The FBI, the US federal police, searched Henry Cuellar's home and campaign office in 2022 as part of an investigation into links between Azerbaijani and American businessmen.

At the head of the Democratic minority in the House of Representatives, Hakeem Jeffries recalled the right to the “presumption of innocence” with the dismissal of Henry Cuellar from an important position within a parliamentary committee.