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 Saturday, May 4 2024 14:35
Naira Badalian

ANCA calls on US House of Rep  to expel Henry Cuellar over accepting  $598,000 in Azerbaijani bribes

ANCA calls on US House of Rep  to expel Henry Cuellar over accepting  $598,000 in Azerbaijani bribes

ArmInfo.The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) today called on the U.S. House to  immediately expel Henry Cuellar (D-TX) over his indictment for accepting nearly six hundred thousand dollars in Azerbaijani bribes. 

As statement received by ANCA reads, the indictment, only recently  unsealed, presents detailed accusations that Rep. Cuellar, who serves  as co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus, accepted  substantial payments from Azerbaijani state-controlled entities in  return for advancing pro-Azerbaijan legislation.  "We call on the  U.S. House to immediately vote to expel Henry Cuellar, condemn  Azerbaijan's brazen interference in our American democracy, and enact  statutory measures to prevent ongoing attempts by Azerbaijan's  corrupt Aliyev family to rig U.S. foreign policy in its favor," said  Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. "We have, for more  than a decade now, fought Henry Cuellar at the ballot box and battled  his genocide-enabling legislation on Capitol Hill - always shining a  national spotlight on this foreign breach of the American public  trust. By all accounts, this is just the tip of the iceberg."  According to the federal indictment, unsealed earlier today, Rep.  Cuellar and his wife are accused of receiving over $598,000 from an  Azerbaijani state-owned oil company and other foreign entities in  exchange for advancing Azerbaijani interests within the U.S.   Congress.  The indictment explicitly states that "With respect to  Azerbaijan, in exchange for the bribe payments, Henry Cuellar  promised to influence U.S. foreign policy in favor of Azerbaijan.  Henry Cuellar agreed, among other things, to influence a series of  legislative measures relating to Azerbaijan's conflict with  neighboring Armenia; to insert language favored by Azerbaijan into  legislation and committee reports governing certain security and  economic aid programs; to deliver a pro-Azerbaijan speech on the  floor of the House of Representatives; and to consult with  representatives of Azerbaijan regarding their efforts to lobby the  United States government." In January 2013, Rep. Cuellar went on a  trip to Turkey and Azerbaijan, facilitated by Azerbaijani  connections, where he engaged with high-ranking Azerbaijani officials  and business leaders.  That trip, which was reported to cost close to  $20,000, was covered by the Turquoise Council of Americans and  Eurasians, chaired by Kemal Oksuz, who was subsequently convicted for  concealing the fact that other trips to Azerbaijan, organized by his  group later that year, were actually paid for by SOCAR, the  government-funded oil company of Azerbaijan. Rep. Cuellar's trip laid  the groundwork for subsequent corrupt dealings highlighted in the   charges.  The communication exchanges between Rep. Cuellar and  Azerbaijani officials revealed in today's indictment paint a stark  picture of collusion. In response to an Azerbaijani diplomat's  request for assistance with U.S. legislation, Cuellar indicated  readiness to help, stating he would "try [his] best" to influence  legislative outcomes favorably for Azerbaijan. This included efforts  to modify legislative language in ways that supported Azerbaijan's  geopolitical interests over Armenia's.  On multiple occasions,  Cuellar communicated directly with Azerbaijani officials to discuss  strategies for overriding Armenian interests in Congress. In one  email, an Azerbaijani diplomat expressed gratitude, stating, "Thank  you, Congressman! This is good indeed," acknowledging Cuellar's  efforts to steer U.S. policy in Azerbaijan's favor. Azerbaijani  diplomats reportedly referred to Rep. Cuellar as "el Jefe" or "Boss"  in text messages.  The indictment further uncovers how Rep. Cuellar  agreed to insert pro-Azerbaijan speeches into Congressional records  and to advance legislation that would undermine U.S. aid to Nagorno  Karabakh (Artsakh). In one email, Cuellar promised Azerbaijani  contacts to "set up a meeting" with U.S. defense officials to discuss  matters benefiting Azerbaijan, directly linking his legislative  actions to the bribes received.  According to the Justice Department,  Rep. Cuellar and his wife, Imelda, surrendered to authorities on  Friday. After an initial appearance before a federal judge in  Houston, they were released on $100,000 bond each.  Charges against  Rep. Cuellar and his wife include bribery, conspiracy, acting as  agents of foreign principals, and money laundering. If convicted,  they can spend decades in prison and may need to forfeit property  linked to proceeds from the alleged scheme. 

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