Former Top UN Official Accused in Chinese Bribery Investigation
Six people, including former United Nations General Assembly President John Ashe, were charged today in a wide-ranging corruption and bribery scheme related to business projects in the Chinese gambling hub of Macau.
Ashe is accused of accepting over $1 million in bribes from sources in China in exchange for performing official actions for businessmen who were seeking benefits from the U.N. and the government of Antigua and Barbuda the country for which Ashe was also an ambassador to the U.N., according to a criminal complaint released today. Ashe was President of the General Assembly in 2013.
Among other things, Ashe accepted over $500,000 of bribes facilitated by [defendants Francis] Lorenzo and [Jeff C.] Yin from [defendant Ng Lap Seng], who was seeking to build a multi-billion dollar, U.N.-sponsored conference center in Macau, China, the complaint says. Ambassador Francis Lorenzo is a naturalized U.S. citizen, but has been a U.N. diplomat representing the Dominican Republic for the last 11 years, according to the complaint.
The complaint says Ashe also received over $800,000 in bribes from various Chinese businessmen and in return supported these businessmens interests within the United Nations and with senior Antiguan government officials, including the countrys then-Prime Minister with whom Ashe shared a portion of the bribe payments.
An attorney for Lorenzo, Brian Bieber, told ABC News his client voluntarily surrendered to the FBI early this morning.
"Ambassador Lorenzo acted in good faith at all times and to his detriment, trusted the people he dealt with and relied on their integrity," Bieber said. "We anticipate a response to all the detailed allegations being leveled against the Ambassador to be forthcoming shortly."
ABC News previously reported Ngs arrest late last month by the FBI. He is accused of lying about why he brought $4.5 million in cash to the United States. The complaint against Ng details a series of trips he made to the U.S., often by private jet, allegedly carrying large amounts of cash, but did not say for whom the money was intended.
Almost two decades ago, Ng was identified in a 1998 Senate report as the source of hundreds of thousands of dollars illegally funneled through an Arkansas restaurant owner, Charlie Trie, to the Democratic National Committee during the Clinton administration.
Tries contributions purchased access for himself and Ng to the highest levels of our government, the Senate report said.Ng and Trie made a number of visits to the White House to attend Democratic National Committee-sponsored events and was photographed with President Bill Clinton and then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. ABC News reported in 1997 that Ng had made six trips to the White House.
After Ngs arrest last month, a spokesman for the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign, Brian Fallon, said there had been no contact between the campaign and Ng, and there is no indication of any current ties to the Clintons or the Democratic Party.