Date
21 October 2017
A file picture of Macau billionaire Ng Lap Seng, who is going on trial in the US for alleged bribery of UN diplomats. Credit: Reuters
A file picture of Macau billionaire Ng Lap Seng, who is going on trial in the US for alleged bribery of UN diplomats. Credit: Reuters

Macau billionaire trial to begin in US over UN bribery case

Macau property and casino mogul Ng Lap Seng will head to a federal court in New York on Monday to face charges that he orchestrated an elaborate scheme to bribe Caribbean diplomats to the United Nations, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Prosecutors allege that Ng paid bribes to ambassadors to the UN from Antigua and Barbuda and the Dominican Republic to get the organization’s support for a multibillion-dollar conference center he and a suspected Chinese intelligence agent planned to build in Macau, according to the paper.

Ng wanted the center to serve as China’s official venue for UN events, the report said, citing court documents.

At trial, prosecutors will seek to prove that Ng, who has pleaded not guilty, both controlled the payments and intended for them to be bribes.  

Ng, who turns 69 on Monday, has been under house arrest in his Manhattan apartment since October 2015, secured by a US$50 million bond.

The defense has indicated in court papers that it will argue Ng’s payments weren’t bribes, rather legitimate donations in accordance with UN practice.

Ng’s lawyers argue the case has been improperly driven by a US “geopolitical interest in slowing the progress of Chinese influence over developing nations.”

The US government has rejected such claims.

But prosecutors plan to present at trial evidence purporting to show the involvement of Ng’s associate, Qin Fei, in the proposed Macau project, according to court documents.

US officials suspect Qin is a Chinese intelligence operative, sources told the Journal.

Though he hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing by US officials, Qin has surfaced in additional federal cases in Brooklyn.

Former Air China employee Ying Lin, who has pleaded not guilty to charges she smuggled packages for Chinese military officials, was designated by Qin as an agent for a US$10 million mansion he purchased in Long Island, property records show.

The airline hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing.

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RC

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