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US asks South Korea to arrest former UN chief Ban's brother

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The US government has asked South Korea to arrest a brother of former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on charges that he engaged in a bribery scheme to carry out the sale of a Vietnamese building complex, a US prosecutor said on Friday.

[NEW YORK] The US government has asked South Korea to arrest a brother of former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on charges that he engaged in a bribery scheme to carry out the sale of a Vietnamese building complex, a US prosecutor said on Friday.

During a court hearing in federal court in Manhattan, Assistant US Attorney Daniel Noble said that a request had been made for the arrest of Ban Ki-Sang, who was an executive at South Korean construction firm Keangnam Enterprises Co Ltd.

Noble said the United States plans to seek his extradition,"but as of yet, he has not been apprehended." Ban Ki-Sang, who could not be reached for comment, was one of four people charged on Jan 10 in a case that has complicated his brother's expected run for president of South Korea following his recently finished term at the United Nations.

The case has already resulted in the arrest of another of the former UN chief's relatives, Joo Hyun "Dennis" Bahn, a real estate broker living in New Jersey who is Ban Ki-Moon's nephew and Ban Ki-Sang's son.

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According to an indictment, amid a liquidity crisis at Keangnam, Ban Ki-Sang, 69, arranged for it to hire his son to broker a refinancing on the Landmark 72 building complex in Hanoi, which cost over US$1 billion to construct.

The indictment said that in March 2013, Mr Bahn through an acquaintance met Malcolm Harris, a self-described arts and fashion consultant and blogger who has also been charged in the case.

Prosecutors said Mr Harris told Mr Bahn he could help get a deal via his connections, which he said included members of a Middle Eastern royal family, and offered to arrange the Landmark 72's sale to a sovereign wealth fund by bribing an official.

In April 2014, Mr Bahn and Ban Ki-Sang agreed to pay an upfront US$500,000 bribe and another US$2 million upon the sale's closing to the official, prosecutors said.

But prosecutors said Mr Harris did not have any connection to the official, and after the men sent US$500,000 to his company, Muse Creative Consulting LLC, to pay bribes as a middle man, he stole the funds.

He spent the money on airfare, hotels, lavish meals, furniture, rent for a Manhattan apartment and a six-month lease for a penthouse in the fashionable Brooklyn neighbourhood of Williamsburg, the indictment said.

Both Mr Bahn, 38, and Mr Harris, 52, have pleaded not guilty.

REUTERS

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