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Texas Congressman Cuellar and Wife Charged with Bribery, Foreign Influence, and Money Laundering

U.S. Congressman Enrique Roberto “Henry” Cuellar and his wife, Imelda Cuellar, both residents of Laredo, Texas, faced charges unveiled on Friday, May 3rd, in the Southern District of Texas. The indictment accuses them of engaging in bribery, unlawful foreign influence, and money laundering. The couple appeared in court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena Palermo in Houston.

Court documents allege that between December 2014 and November 2021, the Cuellars received approximately $600,000 in bribes from two foreign entities: an oil and gas company owned by the Government of Azerbaijan and a bank based in Mexico City. These funds were purportedly laundered through sham consulting contracts into shell companies owned by Imelda Cuellar, who allegedly performed minimal legitimate work under these contracts. In exchange for the bribes, Congressman Cuellar purportedly agreed to leverage his position to influence U.S. foreign policy in favor of Azerbaijan and to advocate for measures beneficial to the Mexican bank.

The Cuellars face multiple charges, including conspiracy to commit bribery of a federal official, bribery of a federal official, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, violating the ban on public officials acting as agents of a foreign principal, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and money laundering. If convicted, they could each face significant prison sentences.

The announcement was made by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen, the FBI, and the Department of State's Office of Inspector General. Prosecution of the case is led by Acting Deputy Chiefs Marco A. Palmieri and Rosaleen O’Gara, along with Trial Attorneys Celia Choy and Garrett Coyle.

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