Chinese billionaire sentenced four years in UN scandal

Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 12 2018 08:19 AM

NEW YORK, United States - Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng was sent to prison on Friday for four years by a US federal judge after being convicted of bribery in a UN corruption scandal.

The 69-year-old Macau businessman was found guilty in July 2017 after a five-week New York trial of bribing a former president of the UN General Assembly and a former deputy ambassador for the Dominican Republic.

The wealthy real estate developer from Macau was convicted on six counts in connection with a years-long scheme to pay more than $1.3 million in bribes to UN officials.

In addition to his four-year prison term, Judge Vernon Broderick ordered Ng to pay a fine of $1 million, forfeit $1.5 million and make restitution to the United Nations for its legal fees.

Ng bribed John Ashe, president of the Assembly for a year from September 2013, and Francis Lorenzo to win UN support for a multi-billion-dollar UN conference center that he wanted to build in Macau.

On Friday, Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said he "corrupted the highest levels of the United Nations" and exploited "a center for international diplomacy as an instrument for his greedy intentions."

Four other defendants, including Lorenzo, have pleaded guilty. The fifth, Ashe, who was arrested in October 2015 and came from Antigua and Barbuda, died in 2016.

The scandal was a blow to the United Nations, which seeks to promote corruption-free good governance worldwide.

After the arrests, then UN chief Ban Ki-moon promised to examine the finances of the president's office and ordered an audit to shed light on the murky ties between the United Nations and Ng.

The UN "cooperated extensively to facilitate the proper administration of justice in this case, by disclosing thousands of documents and waiving the immunity of officials to allow them to testify at trial," spokesman Farhan Haq said.

© Agence France-Presse