Former New York Foundation finance director pleads guilty to 5 counts, of bribery and money laundering
Former New York Foundation finance director Heidi Hong Piao, pleads guilty to five (5) counts of bribery and money laundering. She was accused of participating in a scheme to bribe a former United Nations General Assembly president on Thursday, and has become the first defendant to plead guilty in the case. The guilty plea by Heidi Hong Piao to five counts, including bribery and money laundering, is a major break for U.S. prosecutors examining an alleged conspiracy to bribe John Ashe, the former General Assembly president. 52-year old Piao, also known as Heidi Park, agreed to cooperate with authorities. She admitted to having agreed with others to funnel illegal payments to Ashe, who was also the U.N. ambassador from Antigua & Barbuda.
“The monetary payments were made with the intent of influencing John Ashe, including in his official capacity,” she said in Manhattan federal court. Piao, who was finance director at the Global Sustainability Foundation, was among six people charged in the case last October. Prosecutors allege that Ashe, the U.N. General Assembly president from 2013 to 2014, accepted $1.3 million of bribes from Chinese businessmen to support their interests within the U.N. and Antigua.
Prosecutors said The bribes included over $800,000 from three businessmen, and arranged through Piao and Sheri Yan, who was the Global Sustainability Foundation’s chief executive. Prosecutors have also charged Ng Lap Seng, a billionaire developer from the Chinese territory of Macau who allegedly paid $500,000 in bribes to Ashe through intermediaries.
Those intermediaries included Francis Lorenzo, a now-suspended deputy U.N. ambassador from the Dominican Republic, and Jeff Yin, Ng’s assistant, prosecutors said. Ashe, Lorenzo, Ng, Yin and Yan have pleaded not guilty. In court, Piao, who pleaded guilty to charges including bribery and money laundering, said Ashe received payments to attend a conference in his official U.N. capacity.
That admission mirrored a claim by prosecutors that Ashe received $200,000 to attend a conference hosted by a Chinese real estate developer. Piao also said payments included money intended to pay officials in Antigua to, among other things, enter into a contract with a foreign company
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