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Thread: Sen. Robert Menendez Investigated For Helping Fugitive Ecuadoran Bankers Hiding In Fl

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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Sen. Robert Menendez Investigated For Helping Fugitive Ecuadoran Bankers Hiding In Fl

    Sen. Robert Menendez Investigated For Helping Fugitive Ecuadoran Bankers Hiding In Florida

    Published January 24, 2014Fox News Latino


    The Department of Justice is investigating whether Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, engaged in any wrongdoing when his office attempted to assist two fugitive bankers from Ecuador who were seeking to avoid extradition and remain living in the United States, NBC’s New York affiliate station reported.

    The bankers, brothers William and Roberto Isaias, were sentenced in absentia on charges that they embezzled millions from their bank, which collapsed, NBC reported, citing “multiple current and former U.S. officials.”

    The brothers, who live in Florida, do not face criminal charges in the United States, but Ecuador considers them fugitives. The bank, Filanbanco, that the brothers ran was Ecuador’s largest for more than three decades. It was one of several banks that collapsed in the late 1990s.

    Investigators are looking into whether Menendez personally reached out to a high-ranking immigration official in 2012 pressing for the Isaias brothers to be allowed to reside permanently in the United States and not be sent back to Ecuador. Investigators in particular want to know if the senator made the effort in exchange for large campaign donations by the Isaias brothers, NBC reported.

    The network said that in 2005 the U.S. ambassador to Ecuador wrote to the U.S. State Department urging that the brothers be expelled from the United States because they had fled their country “with $100 million” that they had acquired through criminal actions.

    But the U.S. Justice Department maintained that Ecuador’s government has not given it the evidence it would need to extradite the brothers, NBC reported. And Florida courts have denied requests by Ecuador to take control of the brothers' U.S. assets, NBC said.

    Menendez's office issued a statement saying the senator had not acted inappropriately by seeking to help the brothers.

    "Our office works each year with literally hundreds of individuals and families from across the country who are seeking help with the immigration process,” the statement read. “We review each and every request we receive, and if we feel any inquiry is appropriate, we make it.

    "In this particular case, Sen. Menendez believed the Isaias family had been politically persecuted in Ecuador, including through the confiscation of media outlets they owned which were critical of the government," said the senator's spokeswoman, Tricia Enright. "We are not aware of any inquiry into the senator’s actions on this matter."

    Menendez has been under federal investigation because of allegations that he inappropriate intervened – in exchange for campaign donations – on behalf of a Florida eye doctor who was having a dispute with Medicare.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Exclusive: Federal Probe Into New Jersey Sen. Menendez Is Widening

    The Justice Department is investigating Menendez's efforts on behalf of two businessmen from Ecuador

    By Jonathan Dienst, Donna Mendell and Polly DeFrank
    | Friday, Jan 24, 2014 | Updated 12:57 PM EST

    The federal criminal investigation into New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez is broader than previously known, NBC 4 New York has learned.

    The Department of Justice is investigating Menendez's efforts on behalf of two fugitive bankers from Ecuador, multiple current and former U.S. officials tell NBC 4 New York. The probe into Menendez’s dealing with the bankers comes as federal authorities are also investigating his relationship to a big campaign donor from Florida.

    The criminal investigation is focusing in part on the senator’s ties to William and Roberto Isaias, and whether the senator crossed a line in trying to help the two brothers stay in the United States.

    The Isaias brothers have been fugitives from their native Ecuador for more than a decade -- sentenced in absentia for embezzling millions as the bank they ran there was collapsing.

    The Isaias brothers now live in Coral Gables, Fla., running several successful businesses, and they have never been charged in the U.S. But back home in Ecuador, they’re wanted men.

    Back in the 1990s, outraged Ecuadorians took to the streets demanding their money back after several banks collapsed, including the country’s largest, Filanbanco, which had been run by the Isaias brothers.

    An auditor’s report for banking authorities in Ecuador found Filanbanco lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

    In 2005, U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Kristie Kenney wrote a cable to the State Department saying the Isaias brothers absconded “with $100 million" and "used their ill-gotten wealth to buy safe passage from Ecuador."

    The ambassador recommended the Isaias brothers be kicked out of the United States. But to date, the Justice Department says Ecuador’s government, which has been at odds with the U.S. in recent years, has not provided enough evidence to warrant extradition.

    "The fact that the Isaias brothers continue to live a life of luxury in the U.S. while their account holders are suffering in Ecuador has been a constant concern between the U.S. and Ecuador since their flight," said Linda Jewell, a former U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador.

    In 2010, Ecuador had Interpol issue international arrest warrants.
    Their lawyer says that the brothers are innocent and are appealing their convictions, and that they did not steal any money and are actually victims of political persecution by Ecuador’s government.

    “And that is the problem of the Isaiases, that they have committed the crime of being rich in a poor country,” said their attorney, Xavier Castro Munoz.

    He says Filanbanco was in fine shape until the government took it over.

    And he says the justice system in Ecuador is broken and the brothers “will not get justice in Ecuador.”

    Ecuador has seized many of the Isaias brothers’ assets in that country. But so far, a court in Florida has rejected Ecuador’s efforts to seize assets inside the U.S.

    For years the Isaias brothers have been seeking permanent residence in the United States. Officials say they turned to the powerful New Jersey senator for help.

    Multiple officials say Menendez wrote letters and made phone calls to the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department in support of the brothers. The former head of the FBI in New Jersey says such letters and calls are not the normal practice.

    "It's shocking,” said Weysan Dun, the former special agent in charge of the FBI’s New Jersey office. “I think most people would know and would believe that it be appropriate to keep your distance from individuals who are convicted of crimes in their homeland."

    On April 2, 2012 for example, officials say, Menendez personally wrote high-ranking Homeland Security official Alejandro Mayorkas, asking that the brothers get "full consideration" and that the Department of Homeland Security "expedite its review."

    Investigators say they want to know whether the senator attempted to influence immigration officials in 2012 in exchange for campaign donations.

    A spokeswoman for Menendez said in a statement: "Our office works each year with literally hundreds of individuals and families from across the country who are seeking help with the immigration process. We review each and every request we receive, and if we feel any inquiry is appropriate, we make it.

    "In this particular case, Sen. Menendez believed the Isaias family had been politically persecuted in Ecuador, including through the confiscation of media outlets they owned which were critical of the government," said the spokeswoman, Tricia Enright. "We are not aware of any inquiry into the senator’s actions on this matter."

    Reached by phone, Roberto Isaias said that, as a non-resident of the United States, he cannot make donations to a U.S. political campaign and that he does not have anything to do with any senator or politician.
    Federal election records show relatives of the Isaias brothers who are residents donated more than $10,000 to the senator’s 2012 campaign. And records show that the family of Roberto Isaias also donated at least $100,000 to the Democratic party in 2012.

    Campaign donations could be one area of interest to investigators from the Justice Department, said Scott Fredericksen, an attorney who prosecuted federal corruption cases for the Justice Department.

    “If the government, when they look at this, can establish that in exchange for donations from citizens not from this country, of gifts, that the senator took official action that benefited them, now, now we're talking about something potentially illegal,” Fredericksen said.

    So far, authorities have not filed any charges. And legal experts say it can be tough to prove that kind of case.

    “For Sen. Menendez, who is chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, to be involved in something that has a foreign component and might raise concerns about the national interest with other countries, this is an incredibly serious matter,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics.

    Krumholz says Menendez’s relationship with Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, a major campaign donor, is also a serious matter.

    Federal investigators have searched Melgen’s offices twice in connection with an $8 million Medicare billing dispute. Separately, they are looking into whether Menendez improperly advocated for the doctor in that dispute. They are also looking into whether the senator acted improperly to help Melgen with a deal to secure a port security contract in the Dominican Republic.

    The senator has said he did nothing wrong. Menendez said he called Medicare to raise concerns about conflicting guidelines and supported the port security deal because it could help stem the flow of drugs to the U.S.
    Melgen, too, has denied any wrongdoing and is suing Medicare alleging that the agency has wrongly accused him of overbilling.

    Last year, Menendez reimbursed Melgen $58,000 after news broke that he took three trips on Melgen’s private jet -- two of them to the luxury resort of Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic.

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  3. #3
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Ecuadorians Deny Making Improper Contributions to Sen. Menendez

    New Jersey senator reportedly being investigated for a quid pro quo
    BY: Alana Goodman
    January 24, 2014 6:25 pm

    The fugitive Ecuadorian bankers at the center of an alleged FBI probe of Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) deny that they traded campaign donations for political support from the senator.

    Menendez reportedly sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security in 2012 lobbying against an Ecuadorian government extradition request for the two bankers, brothers William and Roberto Isaias Dassum, who were convicted of embezzlement in Ecuador and are living in Miami. The FBI is allegedly investigating whether political donations by the bankers’ family members were related to Menendez’s lobbying effort, WNBC New York firstreported.

    The Isaias brothers denied the allegations and said they are victims of an “aggressive and systematic campaign of persecution by [Ecuadorian president] Rafael Correa and his totalitarian regime,” in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon on Friday.

    “The corruption, lack of fairness and due process in Ecuador’s judicial system is well documented and extends beyond us to prominent journalists, independent media outlets, and others that have been jailed, harassed, and punished,” they said.

    “We know firsthand how democracy, human rights, freedom of the press, and due process has been trampled in Ecuador. This experience has led members of our family to exercise our democratic right to support elected officials in the U.S. from both parties that defend and promote these principles in the Western Hemisphere. Any donation made by any member of the Isaias family is driven by these values and have been made in a normal and legal manner in accordance with federal election laws,” they said.

    Menendez’s office did not comment to the Free Beacon. He told reporters on Thursday that the charges were “ridiculous.”

    “A year after a false smear campaign was launched against me, once again we see anonymous sources,” Menendez said. “I’d like these people to come forward but we’re back to anonymous sources making ridiculous allegations.”

    This would be the second FBI probe into the New Jersey senator, who has also been under scrutiny for his relationship with one of his major donors, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.

    Menendez allegedly contacted administration officials to defend the eye doctor against Medicare fraud charges in 2012 and later intervened to support one of his business projects. Melgen and his family have contributed nearly $175,000 to Menendez and the New Jersey Democratic Party since 2006, according to reports.

    The senator also initially failed to disclose and pay for flights he took on Melgen’s private plane. After the flights were made public, Menendez said he reimbursed the eye doctor.

    But sources say the latest allegations against Menendez do not seem as substantial as the Melgen case, at least based on the details that have been published so far. According to WNBC, the Isaias family contributed $10,000 to Menendez, far less than the Melgen family.

    “The NBC story seems a bit thin on the scope of the investigation so we are searching for what else may have triggered the federal investigation,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, the government watchdog group whose investigation into Menendez last year triggered the first news reports on his questionable relationship with Melgen.

    The FBI field office in New Jersey said it could not comment on the matter.
    Boehm said it is likely more substantial details will come out, but added that local or national politics could have also played a role in the probe.

    “Menendez is not well-liked by the administration,” Boehm said. “They would like to see him kicked out as the chairman of the Foreign Relations [Committee] because the number two person, [Sen.] Ben Cardin, is much more to their liking. So is there politics like that involved? Who knows.”

    Menendez has recently clashed with the Obama administration over his leadership on new Iran sanctions legislation, which the White House argues will undermine its nuclear negotiations with Tehran.

    A source who has worked with Menendez’s office on foreign policy issues said the senator has “been under withering assault from the White House for a range of issues,” but that the investigation is not likely to interfere with the sanctions effort.

    “[Menendez] is determined, he is unyielding, he’s going to see this through,” he said.

  4. #4
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    Fugitive Ecuadorian Embezzlers Tied to DWS, Other Pols

    BY: Washington Free Beacon Staff
    February 5, 2014 2:44 pm

    The two fugitive Ecuadorian bankers at the center of Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D., N.J.) latest alleged FBI investigation have also contributed to other politicians, including Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), Bill Nelson (D., Fla.), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.), the Daily Beast reports:

    Florida Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, while she was chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to federal agencies on behalf of two Ecuadorian bankers convicted of embezzlement who were seeking U.S. residency. She also advocated for their family members, who donated over $20,000 to her campaign. […]
    The congresswoman denied any quid pro quo and maintained there was nothing wrong regarding her work on behalf of the Isaias brothers. The congresswoman said her advocacy on the bankers’ behalf was simply a matter of routine constituent service. […]

    In addition to Menendez and Ros-Lehtinen, Isaias family members also contributed to the campaigns of Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and Florida Rep. Joe Garcia, all Democrats.

    The FBI probe is allegedly looking into whether Menendez traded political favors for campaign contributions from family members of the two brothers. William and Roberto Isaias, who were convicted of embezzlement in abstentia by Ecuador’s autocratic government, have been living in Florida under threat of extradition from the Correa regime.

    Menendez received contributions from Isaias family members and sent letters to federal officials on the brothers’ behalf, but denies any wrongdoing.

    Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who runs the Democratic National Committee and has worked to kill an Iran sanctions resolution in the House, received at least $7,500 from the Isaias family members in 2012, according to FEC records.

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    Failure to Arrest Illegal Alien Senate Intern Demonstrates Obama Administration Cannot Be Trusted

    According a report by the Associated Press, political appointees at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) repeatedly instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents not to arrest an illegal alien sex offender who was employed as an unpaid intern in the office of Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) until after the elections. If confirmed, this overtly political act further demonstrates the shocking politicization of immigration enforcement under the current DHS leadership, charged the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

    "The Department of Homeland Security knew that Luis Sanchez Zavaleta was both an illegal alien and a registered sex offender as early as October. Nevertheless, high ranking DHS officials placed electoral politics ahead of public safety and the law, when they instructed ICE agents not to arrest Mr. Sanchez until after the 2012 elections," said Dan Stein , president of FAIR.

    Join our FIGHT AGAINST illegal immigration & to secure US borders by joining our E-mail Alerts at

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