Henry Cuellar Releases Statement On Federal Indictment

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) released a statement addressing the indictment of him and his wife, Imelda Cuellar.

According to the Department of Justice, the congressman was charged alongside Imelda with participation in two alleged schemes involving bribery, money laundering and unlawful foreign influence.

The Cuellars are accused of taking almost $600,000 in bribes from an oil and gas company owned and controlled by the government of Azerbaijan and a bank headquartered in Mexico city.

“The bribe payments were laundered, pursuant to sham consulting contracts, through a series of front companies and middlemen into shell companies owned by Imelda Cuellar,” prosecutors said.

Cuellar allegedly used his office as the Ranking Member on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee to influence U.S. foreign policy to favor Azerbaijan in exchange for the bribes he received.

“In exchange for the bribes paid by the Mexican bank, Congressman Cuellar allegedly agreed to influence legislative activity and to advise and pressure high-ranking U.S. Executive Branch officials regarding measures beneficial to the bank,” prosecutors said.

Cuellar denied the accusations in his statement on Friday, saying, “I want to be clear that both my wife and I are innocent of these allegations. Everything I have done in Congress has been to serve the people of South Texas.”

According to him, he took the actions after he had “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.”

Hence, he argued that his actions were in America’s interests and were consistent with the actions of many of my colleagues.”

Cuellar went on to praise Imelda, saying that she was an accomplished business professional as opposed to the insinuation that she was “anything but qualified and hard working.”

The Cuellars’ indictment comes after their home and Cuellar’s campaign office was raided by the FBI in 2022 as part of the criminal investigation into several U.S. businessmen and the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan.

The Cuellars face two counts of bribery of a foreign principal, five counts of money laundering, one count of conspiracy to commit concealment money laundering, two counts of violating the ban on public officials acting as agents of a foreign principal, two counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery of a federal official and to have a public official act as an agent of a foreign principal.

The couple faces a sentence of up to 204 years in prison if they are convicted on all the charges against them.