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U.S. authorities charged a former president of the United Nations General Assembly, a billionaire Macau real estate developer and four others on Tuesday for engaging in a wide-ranging corruption scheme.
John Ashe, the U.N. ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda who was president in 2013, was accused in a complaint filed in federal court in New York of taking more than $1.3 million in bribes from Chinese businessmen, including developer Ng Lap Seng.
The complaint said Ng, through intermediaries, paid Ashe more than $500,000. In exchange, Ashe told the U.N. secretary general that a yet-to-be built multibillion-dollar U.N.-sponsored conference center in Macau was needed.
For the second time in three decades, a billionaire Chinese real estate mogul is central to a scandal over whether his money was used to buy influence.
Authorities say in the 1990s, Ng Lap Seng (eeng-lap-sing) funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic National Committee. He visited the White House at least 10 times and was photographed with then-President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Now, a federal prosecutor has charged him with playing a central role in a $1.3 million bribery scheme to corrupt a former president of the United Nations General Assembly.
His lawyer has said his arrest two weeks ago was a misunderstanding. Investigators say he wanted to secure his legacy by bribing his way to building a multibillion-dollar U.N.-connected conference center.
How can people like this get into such high international positions?