|Antigua Ambassador John Ashe and Ng Lap Seng|
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (bribery and corruption) and money laundering conviction of Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng, who sought to corruptly influence senior leaders at the United Nations, so that the UN would use Ng's Macau property to hold its annual official conference. Ng is currently serving a four year sentence on the six counts; he also forfeited $1.5m, and was ordered to pay a $1m fine, and make restitution of over $300,000 to the UN.
There were issues in the scandal which drew unwanted attention on the East Caribbean states.The case drew international scrutiny due to the fact that Ng held a diplomatic passport issued by the Commonwealth of Dominica, although he never held any actual diplomatic post. Dominica Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, was photographed with Ng in China, but he never explained the circumstances surrounding his relationship with Ng. Ng's diplomatic passport focused on Dominica's mysterious diplomatic passport sales program, whereby a number of white collar criminals reportedly purchased diplomatic passports, to allow them to evade customs inspection upon arrival at international airports in many countries in the developing world. Large amount of cash were reportedly paid to acquire these prized identity documents.
Antigua's Ambassador to the United Nations, John Ashe, who served as the President of the General Assembly, was the personal recipient of much of the illegal bribes and gratuities paid by Ng, to guarantee that his Macau convention center was selected as the official UN conference site. Ashe, who faced criminal charges as the result, died under suspicious circumstances prior to his trial, and many Antiguans believe that he was the object of foul play, to insure that he would not implicate others not named or charged in the US case.
The issues brought by defense counsel on appeal, all of which were disposed of by the Court:
(1) The UN is not an "organization" within the meaning of the bribery statute.
(2) Jury instructions were incorrect.
(3) the evidence at trial was insufficient to support a jury verdict.
Readers who wish to review the case, styled United States of America vs. Ng Lap Seng et al may access the 71-page decision on the Second Circuit website www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions. It is the second case on the list.
Ng, who is seventy one years old, is currently serving his sentence at Allenwood FCI; his release date is January 10, 2022.