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Influential US senator 'faces corruption charges'

Robert Menendez, the senior senator from New Jersey, will face corruption allegations according to reports. The senator is alleged to have used his position to help the businesses of a friend.

The US Justice Department is preparing criminal corruption charges against Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, American media reported on Friday. Citing anonymous sources briefed on the case, the report reveals that the charges center on allegations that Menendez used his office to promote the business interests of a donor in exchange for gifts.

Responding to the allegations reported by CNN, Senator Menendez's office denied any wrongdoing: "As we have said before, we believe all of the senator's actions have been appropriate and lawful," read the statement from Tricia Enright, Menendez's communications director.

In March 2013, when Menendez was the influential head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he is still the top Democrat today, The Washington Post reported he was under investigation by a Miami grand jury.

According to CNN, the corruption charges are related to an investigation involving a Florida doctor who is a close friend of Menendez and who has donated large sums of money to the senator's campaigns. Salomon Melgen, a prominent ophthalmologist, is reported to have businesses in the Dominican Republic, and Menendez is alleged to have intervened on his behalf from his congressional office.

Tricia Enright countered the accusation by saying Melgen was one of the senator's "closest friends for decades" and that "many false allegations have been made about this manner - allegations that were ultimately publicly discredited."

es/gsw (AFP, Reuters)

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