UPDATE 1-Overhaul urged for scandal-hit U.N. assembly chief's office
(Adds General Assembly president, assembly to discuss report April 7, background)
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS, March 29 (Reuters) - A United Nations task force recommended in a report on Tuesday new ethical rules and financial disclosures for the office of the presidency of the U.N. General Assembly after a bribery scandal involving a former assembly head.
A U.S. investigation into the general assembly presidency, a rotating post filled by member states, has led to charges against seven people accused of participating in a scheme involving more than $1.3 million in bribes.
U.S. prosecutors have accused John Ashe, former U.N. Ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda and 2013-2014 president of the General Assembly, of receiving bribes from Chinese businessmen including Macau real estate developer Ng Lap Seng. Ashe has pleaded not guilty to tax fraud charges and Ng has pleaded not guilty to charges including bribery and money laundering.
Earlier this month, Francis Lorenzo, a suspended deputy U.N. Ambassador from the Dominican Republic, pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with U.S. authorities.
Two other defendants, Sheri Yan and Heidi Hong Piao, pleaded guilty. Julia Vivi Wang, the newest defendant, has not yet entered a plea, and Jeff Yin, Ng's assistant, pleaded not guilty.
A spokesman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara declined to comment on the report.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon created a task force to improve transparency at the office of the assembly president, who is not a U.N. employee. He also requested an audit, due to be published soon. Continuación...