NEW YORK, Oct. 6 (UPI) — Former U.N. General Assembly President John Ashe was arrested Tuesday and charged in a bribery scheme in which he is accused of accepting more than $1 million in exchange for lucrative government investment contracts.
The Wall Street Journal, quoting federal documents unsealed Tuesday, reports Ashe, a former ambassador to the United Nations for Antigua and Barbuda and head of the UN’s 68th General Assembly in 2013, was charged with two counts of tax fraud in connection to the scheme.
Ashe is accused of using his position to promote the construction of a U.N. conference center in Macau, a development project run by Chinese billionaire real-estate mogul Ng Lap Seng, who was arrested in September and also charged Tuesday for lying about $4.5 million in cash brought into the United States on private jets since 2013.
Prosecutors allege Ashe accepted the bribes in various forms between 2011 and 2014 and concealed the payments using U.S.-based non-governmental organizations “which were purportedly established to promote the UN’s mission.”
He reportedly shared some of the money with unnamed senior Antiguan officials, including a former prime minister of the country.
Four others have been charged in the scheme, including Ng’s assistant, Jeff C. Yin; Francis Lorenzo, the deputy permanent representative to the UN from the Dominican Republic, who is accused of helping facilitate the bribes between Ng and Ashe; and Sheri Yan and Heidi Hong Piao, CEO and finance director, respectively, of a New York City-based NGO.