Date
18 December 2017
A file photo of Macau billionaire Ng Lap Seng, who has  been convicted in the US on charges of bribery, money laundering and corruption. Credit: Reuters
A file photo of Macau billionaire Ng Lap Seng, who has been convicted in the US on charges of bribery, money laundering and corruption. Credit: Reuters

US jury finds Macau billionaire guilty in UN bribery case

A US jury on Thursday found Macau billionaire Ng Lap Seng guilty on charges he bribed two United Nations ambassadors to help him build a multibillion-dollar conference center, Reuters reports.

Ng, 69, was convicted on all six counts he faced, including bribery, money laundering and corruption, in the US District Court in Manhattan, the report said.

Jurors needed less than a day to reach a verdict, following a four-week trial.

“In his unbridled pursuit of even greater personal fortune, billionaire Ng Lap Seng corrupted the highest levels of the United Nations,” Acting US Attorney Joon Kim said after the verdict.

“Through bribes and no-show jobs, Ng turned leaders of the league of nations into his private band of profiteers.”

Prosecutors accused Ng of paying more than US$1 million in bribes to bypass the normal hassles of dealing with the UN, with a dream of winning “fame and more fortune” by developing in Macau what he thought of as the “Geneva of Asia.”

Ng hoped the conference center, meant to serve developing countries, would pave the way for luxury housing, hotels, a shopping mall, marinas and a heliport, prosecutors said.

Defense lawyers countered that Ng’s goals were consistent with the types of public-private partnerships that the UN favors, and that other diplomats abused Ng’s trust.

The conference center was never built.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq said that body is considering its “next steps as a victim of these crimes.”

Ng has been free on US$50 million bail, living under 24-hour guard in a luxury Manhattan apartment.

After Assistant US Attorney Daniel Richenthal warned that Ng could now be a flight risk, US District Judge Vernon Broderick modified bail by subjecting Ng to house arrest.

Broderick scheduled an Aug 7 hearing to decide whether to revoke bail.

Prosecutors said the recipients of Ng’s bribes were Francis Lorenzo, a former deputy ambassador from the Dominican Republic, and John Ashe, a former UN General Assembly president and ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda.

Lorenzo pleaded guilty to bribery and money laundering, and testified against Ng for more than a week after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors.

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RC

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