U.N. news outlet at center of bribery case defends its integrity

miércoles 20 de abril de 2016 14:48 GYT

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK, April 20 (Reuters) - A United Nations-focused news outlet whose U.N. accreditation has come under review after U.S. prosecutors linked it to a scheme to bribe a former General Assembly president is striking back at its critics.

South-South News, which for six years has published articles related to the U.N. and development issues, in an open letter dated Monday posted on its website defended its reputation, which it said "has been tainted by some unscrupulous acts."

"Many media and administrative professionals have proudly worked for South-South News and can attest to the integrity of our media operation," South-South News said.

The letter came a month after Francis Lorenzo, a suspended deputy United Nations ambassador from the Dominican Republic and South-South News' former president, pleaded guilty to participating in the bribery scheme.

He is one of seven people charged since October for engaging in a scheme to pay $1.3 million in bribes to John Ashe, a former U.N. ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda who was U.N. General Assembly president from 2013 to 2014.

Prosecutors alleged that Lorenzo facilitated bribe payments to Ashe from Ng Lap Seng, a billionaire real estate developer in Macau who authorities say funded South-South News and who was seeking to build a U.N.-sponsored conference center in Macau.

Following Lorenzo's plea and agreement to cooperate with prosecutors, authorities last month arrested Julia Vivi Wang, who had been the vice president of South-South News, in connection with the bribery investigation.

While South-South News itself has not been charged in the case, prosecutors have alleged that it was used as a conduit for bribes.   Continuación...