Ex-U.N. diplomat, others plead not guilty in U.S. bribery case

jueves 22 de octubre de 2015 16:52 GYT

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK Oct 22 (Reuters) - A former U.N. General Assembly president, a billionaire Macau real estate developer and three others accused by U.S. authorities of engaging in a wide-ranging bribery scheme pleaded not guilty on Thursday.

John Ashe, a former U.N. ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda and onetime General Assembly president accused of taking more than $1.3 million in bribes from Chinese businessmen, pleaded not guilty in Manhattan federal court to tax fraud charges.

Ng Lap Seng, a developer from the Chinese territory Macau who has a $1.8 billion net worth and who prosecutors say paid $500,000 in bribes to Ashe, pleaded not guilty to charges including bribery and money laundering.

Other defendants who pleaded not guilty include Francis Lorenzo, a now-suspended deputy U.N. ambassador from the Dominican Republic; Jeff Yin, Ng's assistant; and Sheri Yan, who had been chief executive of Global Sustainability Foundation.

Their arraignment came after a federal grand jury indicted the defendants on Tuesday, adding new charges in a case first announced Oct. 6.

Prosecutors said Ng, who heads Sun Kian Ip Group, through intermediaries paid Ashe over $500,000 to seek U.N. support of a U.N.-sponsored conference center in Macau.

Ashe, 61, also received over $800,000 from Chinese businessmen to support their interests within the U.N. and Antigua, prosecutors said. They said those payments were arranged through Yan, 56, and Heidi Park, who was Global Sustainability Foundation's finance director.

Park, 52, was not among those indicted on Tuesday, though she remains in custody and the deadline to indict her has not expired.   Continuación...