UPDATE 2-Foundation head pleads guilty in U.N. bribery case
(Recasts with guilty plea, adds court appearance)
By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK Jan 20 (Reuters) - The head of a New York-based foundation pleaded guilty on Wednesday to participating in a scheme to bribe a former U.N. General Assembly president to advance various business interests, becoming the second defendant to admit wrongdoing in the case.
Sheri Yan, who was Global Sustainability Foundation's chief executive, pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to one count of bribery in connection with illicit payments made to John Ashe, the former General Assembly president.
Choking back tears, Yan admitted that beginning in 2012, she agreed with others to pay money to Ashe, who was also the U.N. ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda, to influence officials in Antigua and the United Nations to support business interests.
"While I was doing these things, I knew that they were wrong," Yan said through a Mandarin interpreter.
The plea by Yan, 60, a U.S. citizen, comes less than a week after the former finance director at the foundation, Heidi Hong Piao, pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with authorities in their continuing investigation.
Both women were arrested in October by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as prosecutors unveiled charges over a multi-year scheme to pay more than $1.3 million in bribes to Ashe.
Unlike Piao, though, Yan's plea came without any agreement to cooperate with authorities. Under a plea agreement, Yan, who also is known as Shiwei Yan, agreed not to appeal any sentence of 7-1/4 years in prison. Her sentencing is set for April 29. Continuación...