Macau real estate billionaire latest charged in UN bribery case

Billionaire real estate developer Ng Lap Seng is the latest person to have been indicted in the US for involvement in a scheme to bribe former president of the United Nations General Assembly, John Ashe.

Three other people have been named in the indictment, including former chief executive of the Global Sustainability Foundation and Australia-China social queen, Shiwei Yan, and Francis Lorenzo, a suspended deputy Dominican Republic ambassador to the UN.

According to prosecutors, Lorenzo was one of several intermediaries used by Ng to pay Ashe more than USD$500,000. The bribes were intended to elicit Ashe’s help in acquiring UN support to build a UN conference centre in Macau, where Ng is based.

Ashe is alleged to have taken more than USD$800,000 in bribes from other Chinese businessmen to support business deals in Antigua. Although covered by diplomatic immunity, he faces tax charges for under-reporting his income by more than USD$1.2 million.

Ng also faces money laundering charges after making false statements to custom officials about why they brought USD$4.5 million in cash from China into the US.

US authorities deemed Ng to be a flight risk due to his financial resources, which include USD$1 billion in real estate holdings. He has since been released on a USD$50 million bail and currently lives under 24-hour house arrest in his apartment in Manhattan, pending trial.

The US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) has a wide extraterritorial reach. Under the FCPA, individuals may be subject to fines of up to USD$250,000 per act of corruption and/or five years’ imprisonment.

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Sources: Sydney Morning Herald, Yahoo! News, CNN