WASHINGTON, DC — Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas and his wife have been charged with accepting nearly $600,000 in bribes from two foreign entities, according to an indictment in federal court in Texas.

The alleged scheme took place from late 2014 through at least November 2021, the indictment says.

The congressman and his wife, Imelda Cuellar, made their initial court appearance on Friday in Houston and were released on a $100,000 bond. They are facing several charges, including conspiracy to commit bribery of a federal official, violating the ban on public officials acting as agents of a foreign principal and money laundering.

In a statement on Friday, Cuellar said: “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.”

Prosecutors say that Henry and Imelda Cuellar crafted two yearslong schemes to get bribes from foreign entities – an oil and gas company “wholly owned and controlled by the Government of Azerbaijan, and a bank headquartered in Mexico City.”

In exchange for bribe payments from the Azerbaijan oil company, Cuellar “agreed to perform official acts in his capacity as a Member of Congress, to commit acts in violation of his official duties, and to act as an agent of the Government of Azerbaijan” and the bank, the indictment says.

Among those promises, prosecutors allege Cuellar agreed to influence US policy through a “series of legislative measures relating to Azerbaijan’s conflict with neighboring Armenia,” by giving a pro-Azerbaijani speech on the House floor, inserting language “favored by Azerbaijan” into legislation and committee reports, and advocating for “series of legislative measures relating to Azerbaijan’s conflict with neighboring Armenia.”

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