Wael Hana, an Egyptian American businessman who prosecutors say was the linchpin of a corrupt scheme that funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, was arrested at Kennedy International Airport Tuesday morning after he voluntarily flew to the United States from Egypt to face federal charges in Manhattan, his lawyer said.
Mr. Hana pleaded not guilty late Tuesday afternoon and was granted release on a $5 million personal recognizance bond and strict conditions, including the surrender of his passport.
Mr. Hana, according to a federal indictment, helped facilitate meetings and dinners between Mr. Menendez, his wife, Nadine Menendez, and Egyptian military and intelligence officials in a secret effort to use the senator’s power to increase U.S. aid to Egypt.
Mr. Menendez, a Democrat who until Friday was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, held sway over military sales, financing and other aid. In one text to an Egyptian general, Mr. Hana referred to the senator as “our man.”
Mr. Hana, a longtime friend of Ms. Menendez, had founded a business that was the sole certifier of halal meat imported to Egypt, and the government said it became the conduit for a stream of money to the senator.
Mr. Hana’s lawyer, Lawrence S. Lustberg, said after the hearing that his client had pleaded not guilty “because he is not guilty,” and added that he planned to present “a robust defense.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.