Ex-UN General Assembly president among six held over 'bribery scheme'

Ex-UN General Assembly president among six held over 'bribery scheme'

A former president of the United Nations General Assembly has been arrested and charged with accepting over $1 m in bribes from a billionaire Chinese property mogul and other businesspeople to pave the way for lucrative investments.

John Ashe, the UN ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda who served in the largely ceremonial post from September 2013 to September 2014, faces conspiracy-related and bribery-related charges along with five others, including Francis Lorenzo, a deputy UN ambassador from the Dominican Republic.

Those charged in a criminal complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court included Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng, who was arrested two weeks ago along with his chief assistant, Jeff C Yin, a US citizen whose bail was revoked last week after investigators said he lied to them after his arrest.

According to court papers, Ashe used his UN positions to introduce a document supporting a multibillion-dollar UN-sponsored conference centre that Ng hoped to build as his legacy in Macau, where he lived.

Prosecutors said the conference centre would function as a sort of satellite operation for the world body.

The scheme unfolded over the course of nearly three years, from 2011 through 2014, and included Ashe’s tenure as General Assembly head, prosecutors said.

Authorities said in return for bribes, Ashe used his UN authority to promote Ng’s interests and helped Ng meet government officials from Antigua who could help him with investments.

Ng and his assistant had previously been held by federal authorities on charges they lied about plans for $4.5 m in cash brought into the US over several years aboard private jets.

Prosecutors say some of the bribe money funded first-class airfares for Ashe, his wife and two children to New Orleans, where they stayed in an 850 dollar-a-night hotel room.

Other money, they said, was used to construct a $30,000 basketball court at his home in Dobbs Ferry, New York.

He opened two bank accounts to receive the funds and then underreported his income by more than $1.2 m, officials said.

Prosecutors said two other arrested individuals were involved with Ng.

They were identified as Sheri Yan and Heidi Park, both naturalised US citizens who reside in China and helped facilitate the scheme, prosecutors said.

More in this Section

Woman feared dead as Britain counts the cost of Storm DennisWoman feared dead as Britain counts the cost of Storm Dennis

Coronavirus: Americans from quarantined cruise ship land back in USCoronavirus: Americans from quarantined cruise ship land back in US

Boris Johnson faces calls to sack controversial Number 10 adviserBoris Johnson faces calls to sack controversial Number 10 adviser

More than 200 Heathrow flights grounded after ‘technical issue’More than 200 Heathrow flights grounded after ‘technical issue’


Lifestyle

When Marisa Murphy went to play as a teenager on Dinish Island, she could still see the flowers growing among the ruins in her grandmother’Islands of Ireland: Barely inhabitated Dinish became an industrial zone

MAC make-up artist Lucy Bridge shares her tips backstage at Roland Mouret.How to create the perfect matte red lip, according to a backstage beauty expert

New trends include chunky heeled boots, silver belts and lots of plaid from the British designer.Victoria Beckham got ‘rebellious’ for her new collection – as David and family watched on

When horses were shown photographs of angry human faces, their hearts speeded up.Jackass penguin talk is similar to humans

More From The Irish Examiner