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US convicts Chinese billionaire in UN bribery scandal

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A New York jury unanimously convicted Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng on Thursday in connection with a UN bribery scandal that leaves him risking years in a US prison.

[New York]A New York jury unanimously convicted Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng on Thursday in connection with a UN bribery scandal that leaves him risking years in a US prison.

The 69-year-old was found guilty of bribing a former president of the UN General Assembly, who was arrested in October 2015, and a former deputy ambassador for the Dominican Republic.

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

The most serious offenses - money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering - each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years. The other counts are punishable by up to five and 10 years each.

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"Through bribes and no show jobs, Ng turned leaders of the league of nations into his private band of profiteers," said Manhattan's acting chief federal prosecutor, Joon Kim.

"Ng's journey from a Macau real estate mogul to convicted felon should serve as a cautionary tale to all tempted to follow his path." 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.

Four other defendants, including Lorenzo, have pled guilty. The fifth, Ashe, who came from Antigua and Barbuda, died last year.

The arrest of Ashe 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 an examination of the finances of the president's office and ordered an audit to shed light on the murky ties between the United Nations and Ng.

A spokesman said Thursday that the United Nations had "cooperated extensively" in pursuit of justice by turning over "thousands of documents and waiving immunity of officials so that they could testify.

AFP

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