Six charged in alleged U.N. corruption scheme

October 07 01:55 2015

U.S. authorities Tuesday announced charges against six people in an alleged United Nations corruption and bribery scheme involving millions of dollars in secret payoffs to a former president of the world body’s General Assembly. John Ashe, the former U.N. ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda, accepted more than $3 million in bribes and other payments from business officials to back construction of a U.N.-sponsored conference center in Macau, China and advance the alleged plotters’ business plans at the U.N. and with senior Antiguan officials during his 2013-2014 term as General Assembly president, according to a federal court complaint.

In exchange for the payments, Ashe allegedly submitted a document to the U.N. Secretary General’s office showing a need for the conference center. He also shared a portion of the payments with senior officials of Antigua, including the country’s then-prime minister, the court complaint charged. The suspects channeled and concealed the alleged bribes by using U.S.-based non-governmental organizations purportedly established to promote the U.N.’s official mission and development goals, the complaint charged.

Ashe allegedly used the payments for personal expenses, including a family vacation and construction of a basketball court at his home in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., a suburb roughly 25 miles north of the U.N.’s Manhattan headquarters. He also used payments from the non-governmental organizations to pay the mortgage on the home, cover lease payments on a BMW automobile and buy luxury items such as Rolex watches, the complaint charged.

Ashe allegedly under-reported his income to the IRS by more than $1.2 million in tax years 2013 and 2014. Other suspects charged include Francis Lorenzo, the deputy permanent representative to the U.N. from the Dominican Republic, Ng Lap Seng, a Chinese national and head of a real estate development company based in Macau, and Jeff Yin, Ng’s chief assistant.