Suspended DR Deputy UN Ambassador pleads guilty of conspiracies to commit bribery & money laundering in Manhattan Federal court
Reuters New York Reported today, that a suspended deputy United Nations ambassador from the Dominican Republic, pleaded guilty today Wednesday, to charges that he participated in a scheme to bribe a former U.N. General Assembly president. Francis Lorenzo, 48, admitted in federal court in Manhattan that he engaged in conspiracies to commit bribery and money laundering, as part of an agreement to cooperate in the U.S. investigation.
Lorenzo admitted in court that he facilitated bribe payments from Ng Lap Seng, a billionaire real estate developer in Macau, to John Ashe, a former U.N. Ambassador from Antigua & Barbuda, and who served as General Assembly president from 2013 to 2014. Those bribes, Lorenzo admitted, were paid to Ashe to seek U.N. support of a U.N.-sponsored conference centre in Macau. Lorenzo, who prosecutors said received bribes himself from Ng, said payments were also made to other unnamed foreign officials. "I understand what I was doing, as I described it, was wrong".
Lorenzo is the third defendant to plead guilty to charges arising out of a case U.S. prosecutors announced in October, involving a scheme starting in 2011 to pay more than US$1.3 million in bribes to Ashe.
Prosecutors said those bribes included more than US$500,000 (£351,900) that Ng, who made the payment through intermediaries including Lorenzo and Jeff Yin, Ng's assistant. Ashe also received more than US$800,000 from Chinese businessmen to support their interests within the United Nations and Antigua, prosecutors said.
Those bribes were arranged through Sheri Yan, who was the Global Sustainability Foundation's chief executive, and Heidi Hong Piao, the foundation's finance director, prosecutors said. Both women pleaded guilty in January.
Ashe, Ng and Yin have pleaded not guilty. Benjamin Brafman, Ng's lawyer, said outside of court that Lorenzo's plea would not affect the billionaire' s determination to go to trial, saying he "maintains he is personally innocent."
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Grant McCool and Alan Crosby)
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