A former president of the UN General Assembly has been arrested and charged with accepting over $1m in bribes from a billionaire Chinese property mogul and other businesspeople to pave the way for lucrative investments.
The UN ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda, John Ashe, who served in the post for one year from September 2013, faces conspiracy-related and bribery-related charges.
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Ng Lap Seng, who was arrested two weeks ago along with his chief assistant, Jeff C Yin, a US citizen whose bail was revoked last week after investigators said he lied to them after his arrest.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 .
The scheme unfolded from 2011 over nearly three years, and included Ashe’s tenure as General Assembly head, prosecutors said.
Authorities said that, 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 on charges they lied about plans for $4.5m 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-a-night hotel, and the construction of a $30,000 basketball court at his New York home.
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