Rep. Henry Cuellar, wife indicted over ties with Azerbaijan

Rep. Henry Cuellar

Texas Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar and his wife have been indicted on conspiracy and bribery charges, the Department of Justice announced.

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The couple was charged after an investigation into relationships between American business leaders and Azerbaijan, The Associated Press reported.

Officials allege that Cuellar and his wife accepted $600,000 in bribes from an Azerbaijan-controlled energy company and a Mexican bank. Cullar agreed to advance the interests of both the former Soviet republic and the bank, charging documents alleged.

The indictment said that Cuellar “agreed to influence legislative activity and to advise and pressure high-ranking U.S. executive branch officials regarding measures beneficial to the bank,” The New York Times reported.

Cuellar was charged with 14 counts including conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and acting as a foreign agent, CBS News reported.

The indictment said the couple used fake consulting contracts from front companies and middlemen, funneling the money into fake companies owned by his wife Imelda, according to CBS News.

The indictment said that Imelda Cuellar “performed little or no legitimate” work for the alleged consulting contracts.

Cuellar, who had been the co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus, maintains his and his wife’s innocence.

“Everything I have done in Congress has been to serve the people of South Texas,” Cuellar said in a statement. “Before I took action, I proactively sought legal advice from the House Ethics Committee, who gave me more than one written opinion, along with an additional opinion from a national law firm.

“Furthermore, we requested a meeting with the Washington D.C. prosecutors to explain the facts and they refused to discuss the case with us or hear our side.”

CNN reported that he also defended his wife, writing, “On top of being an amazing wife and mother, she’s an accomplished businesswoman with two degrees. She spent her career working with banking, tax, and consulting. The allegation that she is anything but qualified and hard working is both wrong and offensive.”

Both his home and campaign office were searched by the FBI in 2022, CNN reported. He was running for reflection at the time and won his 10th term, The Washington Post reported.

Cuellar is running for reelection once again this year, according to the newspaper.