US authorities accuse former UNGA president John Ashe of bribery

By @pathakmishra on
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the 65th session of UNHCR's Executive Committee meeting
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the 65th session of UNHCR's Executive Committee meeting at the UN European headquarters in Geneva October 1, 2014. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

Former UN General Assembly President John Ashe, who held office from September 2013 to September 2014, has been charged along with five others on Tuesday for accepting bribes from Chinese businessmen.

U.S. authorities filed a complaint against Ashe in New York federal court, accusing him of being involved in a wide range of corruption schemes. The complaint indicated he took more than US$1.3 million (AU$1.8 million) from Chinese businessmen, including Ng Lap Seng, a developer.

According to the court documents filed on Tuesday, the former UN ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda used a part of the bribe for a family tour to New Orleans and paid US$850 (AU$1,187) per night for hotel accommodation. The prosecutors also said that a part of the bribe was used to lease car, make home mortgage payments, buy formal suits and Rolex watches and construct a basketball court worth US$30,000 (AU$41,902) at his Dobbs Ferry place in New York, from where he was arrested.

The legal officials also stated that Ashe used two bank accounts for bribe transfer and then underreported his income statement, which differed by more than US$1.2 million (AU$1.7 million). Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced the arrest of the former UN president and five other corruption suspects and said that officials are still investigating matters, including whether "corruption is business as usual at the United Nations."

“If proven, today’s charges will confirm that the cancer of corruption that plagues too many local and state governments infects the United Nations as well,” Bharara told Reuters .

UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon found the charges shocking and very troubling, his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said. Present UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark commented on the matter in a news conference, saying, “If proven, this is an attack at the very heart of the integrity of the United Nations.”

On Sep. 19, Seng was arrested along with an assistant, Jeff Yin on charges of making false claims of bringing US$4.5 million (AU$6.3 million) to the U.S. from China from 2013-2015 for gambling purposes or for purchasing antiques, art and real estate.

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