An FBI raid on the House of a U.S. congressman would reveal the link between corruption and Azerbaijani embassies.
After the raid on a Democrat from the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Henry Cuellar, questions are raised about an investigation for embezzlement.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that Azerbaijani embassies around the world are less diplomatic missions and more ATMs: ATMs delivering illegal bribes under the direction of Aliyev,” tweeted the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) on Tuesday, regarding an FBI investigation involving American and Azerbaijani businessmen.
FBI agents searched the Texas home of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar last Wednesday while conducting what an agency spokeswoman called “court-authorized policing.”
The motive and scope of the search were not immediately known. But a reporter for The Monitor in McAllen, Texas, who was the first to report on the operation, said from the scene that more than a dozen federal agents were seen going in and out of Cuellar’s home with suitcases and other items.
It would be part of a wide-ranging federal investigation involving Azerbaijan and several American business people, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News. A federal grand jury in Washington is investigating the case. Still, it is unclear if Cuellar is the target of the investigation.
Cuellar’s office issued a brief statement that did not directly address the location or nature of the search: “Congressman Cuellar will cooperate fully in any investigation. He is committed to ensuring that justice and the law are upheld.”
Later, the same congressman made a statement in a video: “There is an ongoing investigation that will show that there was no wrongdoing on my part. But, as a lawyer, I know firsthand that the legal system is a pillar of our democracy.”
Since 2004, Cuellar has represented a district that stretches from the U.S. border with Mexico near McAllen to Laredo and north to the eastern outskirts of San Antonio. The moderate Democrat has a seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
In recent years has served as co-chair of the Azerbaijan Congressional Caucus and has met on several occasions with Azerbaijani officials, including its ambassador, Elin Suleymanov.
“Azerbaijan’s model of influence, in (Washington) D.C. and capitals worldwide, is bribery and corruption. Unshared values. Not common interests. Not cultural connections”, the ANCA also tweeted.
According to this Armenian organization in the U.S., “it is very likely that the U.S. Attorney General has approved an FBI raid related to the Azerbaijan corruption investigation.”
“The FBI investigation on Cuéllar is the tip of the iceberg. The beginning of overdue accountability for the great Azerbaijani corruption conspiracy throughout Washington DC,” he denounced.
The truth is that Cuéllar’s connections with Azerbaijan seem to be extensive.
A US government trip to Azerbaijan occurred in 2013; The Intercept first reported Friday night. While the congressman was not on that particular trip, one of his employees was, The Daily Beast reported. And just four months earlier, he and his wife embarked on a journey to Turkey and Azerbaijan and met with top leaders to promote economic and geopolitical cooperation between the countries and the U.S. A month later, he spoke in the House and praised Azerbaijan.
“There is something here that the Azeris have in common with the Texans: they are a nation rich in oil production,” Cuéllar said. “As we do in Texas, the Azeris have a long history with oil. Today, they supply the pipeline that moves Caspian oil west through Turkey, bypassing the oil supply through Russia or Iran. That greatly increases the safety of the pipeline.”
In addition, he signed a letter last April advocating aid for the country after a deadly conflict with neighboring Armenia.
Armenia and Azerbaijan staged a confrontation in 2020 for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory with a majority Armenian population that has been the focus of conflict since it decided to separate in 1988 from the Azerbaijan region integrated into the Soviet Union.
Hostilities between the two nations lasted for six weeks and left thousands dead. When the two countries reached a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement, they finally ceased, allowing Russian peacekeepers to settle in Nagorno-Karabakh for five years.
However, violence between the two sides erupts periodically despite the ceasefire of November 2020.
On Wednesday, January 12, Armenia reported the death of a third soldier in armed clashes with Azerbaijan on the border, the worst since the beginning of the year, which also left one dead on the Azerbaijani side.