A former president of the UN General Assembly, another diplomat and a Chinese billionaire were among five defendants who pleaded not guilty yesterday (Oct 22) in a bribery case that has invited scrutiny of the world body’s operations.
The pleas in Manhattan federal court came as each defendant stood in a jury box, their hands handcuffed in front of them. Afterward, a judge refused the government’s attempt to revoke US$50 million bail (S$69 million) for Ng Lap Seng, the wealthy man whose money is at the center of the bribery scandal.
Prosecutors say Ng funnelled over US$1 million in bribes to John Ashe, 61, a former UN ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda who served as president of the General Assembly for one year until a year ago. They say Ng was seeking to influence Ashe, who faces tax charges, to pressure other diplomats into supporting a major UN conference centre in Macau, where Ng lives.
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