News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Former UN official charged by US Attorney Preet Bharara with taking bribes and evading taxes, though unique UN immunity may protect the accused from prosecution-BBC, Reuters

"The complaint only charged Ashe with tax offenses, possibly because he may have diplomatic immunity for any conduct taken in his official capacity."...4/16/2009: Federal prosecutors in New York City were forced to drop criminal and civil cases because the U.N. officials have immunity.” (parag. 4)

10/6/15, "Former UN chief John Ashe charged with taking $1.3m in bribes," BBC
"US authorities have charged a former United Nations General Assembly president with taking bribes from a Chinese billionaire.

New York prosecutors said John Ashe "converted the UN into a platform for profit" as he helped real estate mogul Ng Lap Seng gain government contracts.

Mr Ashe is accused of taking $1.3m, spending the cash on luxury goods.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "shocked and deeply troubled" by the allegations. 

UN Ban Ki-Moon and Ashe

"In return for Rolex watches, a basketball court and bespoke suits, John Ashe sold himself and the global institution he led," said US Federal Attorney Preet Bharara. "United by greed, they converted the UN into a platform for profit."

Prosecutors say Mr Ashe used his position as permanent resident to the United Nations for Antigua and Barbuda and General Assembly head to introduce a UN document supporting a multibillion-dollar UN-sponsored conference centre that Mr Ng hoped to build as his legacy in Macau, where he lived.

The conference centre was supposed to function as a satellite operation for the world body.

The scheme unfolded between 2011 and 2014, including Ashe's tenure as General Assembly head, prosecutors said.

Mr Ashe also set up meetings with government officials in Antigua and Kenya to help the real estate developers land big development contracts, Mr Bharara said.

He is also said to have evaded tax on the bribe money he received and allowed the businesspeople pay for him and his family to stay at an $850-a-night hotel in New Orleans.

Mr Ashe was arrested on Tuesday. Five others including Mr Ng are also being held.

They include another diplomat, Francis Lorenzo from the Dominican Republic, and two naturalised US citizens who live in China who allegedly helped facilitate the scheme, who have been charged with offences including bribery of a UN official and conspiracy to launder money.

Mr Bharara said the investigation was continuing and more arrests were likely."

First image caption: "UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said he was shocked by the allegations against John Ashe," Reuters

Second image caption: "Prosecutor Preet Bharara said John Ashe turned the UN into a "platform for profit," Reuters  


Ashe "may have diplomatic immunity for any conduct taken in his official capacity."..."The non-profit was not identified but matches the description of the Global Sustainability Foundation." 
10/6/15, "Ex-U.N. General Assembly president charged with bribery," Reuters, Nate Raymond and Joseph Ax

"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, a former 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.

The intermediaries included Ng's assistant, Jeff Yin, and Francis Lorenzo, who had been a deputy U.N. ambassador from the Dominican Republic. Yin, 29, was arrested with Ng, 68, last month on separate charges. Yin told FBI agents after the arrest that his boss viewed the conference center as his legacy and had made payments to obtain action from the United Nations on it, the complaint said.

Ashe, 61, also received more than $800,000 of bribes from Chinese businessmen to support their interests within the U.N. and Antigua, and kicked some of the money to Antigua's prime minister at the time, the complaint said.

The complaint said those bribes were arranged through Shiwei Yan, 57, chief executive officer of a New York-based non-profit, and Heidi Hong Piao, 52, its finance director.

The non-profit was not identified but matches the description of the Global Sustainability Foundation. And while the complaint did not name the prime minister, Baldwin Spencer held the post at the time.

The foundation, the prime minister's office, and Antigua and Barbuda's mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Spencer could not immediately be reached.

The complaint said Ashe deposited more than $3 million from foreign governments and officials in accounts at two major American banks
from 2012 to 2014. It said he transferred some money to his wife's bank accounts and spent other sums on his home mortgage in Dobbs Ferry, New York; BMW lease payments; and Rolex watches.

The charges will be discussed at a press conference by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara later on Tuesday.

Bieber Brian, Lorenzo's lawyer, said his client "maintains that he acted in good faith at all times and believed in the integrity of what he was told by those involved." Ng's lawyer, Alex Spiro, said his client committed no crime.

Lawyers for the other defendants arrested Tuesday could not be immediately identified. Yin's lawyer had no immediate comment.

The case followed the Sept. 19 arrest of Ng and Yin for falsely claiming that $4.5 million they brought into the United States from China from 2013 to 2015 was meant for gambling or buying art, antiques or real estate.

U.S. prosecutors have said Ng has a fortune of $1.8 billion, much of which he earned on developments in Macau. He sits on the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, an adviser to the government.
Ng heads the privately held Sun Kian Ip Group in Macau, whose foundation arm lists several ambassadors to the U.N.,, including Ashe, as holding leadership positions.

The U.N. general assembly presidency is a ceremonial one-year post paid for by the home country. The complaint only charged Ashe with tax offenses, possibly because he may have diplomatic immunity for any conduct taken in his official capacity."

UN personnel are immune from prosecution for any crime, free to put US taxpayer dollars in Swiss bank accounts or spend them "renovating a guesthouse." 2009 article:

4/16/2009, Report: U.N. spent U.S. funds on shoddy projects,” USA Today, Ken Dilanian

Do UN “agencies have immunity if they siphon (their U.S. grants) all off into Swiss banks? Is that accurate? They will be totally immune, no matter what they do with the money?” “My understanding is, yes, Gambatesa replied.” (4th parag. from end)

…"The Afghanistan country director for the U.N. Office for Project Services (UNOPS), which served as the contractor on the project for the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) spent about $200,000 in U.S. money to renovate his guesthouse. Witness names were withheld by USAID.” (parag. 7)

Federal prosecutors in New York City were forced to drop criminal and civil cases because the U.N. officials have immunity.” (parag. 4)


UN personnel are unelected and unaccountable. "The secretary-general, currently Ban Ki-moon, can try to coordinate their actions but he has no authority over many of them."

12/5/2014, "5 problems facing UN as it nears 70th anniversary," AP, Edith M. Lederer, United Nations

"The world has changed dramatically since the United Nations was established after World War II, but the organization has not adapted to reflect the 21st century. 
While the U.N. has had its share of successes, its aging structure has struggled with new threats like Ebola and terrorist groups that control large areas of its member countries. U.N. members have been discussing change for decades, but agreement has proven impossible because of competing interests.

As it approaches its 70th anniversary next year, here are five problems facing the United Nations:

Outdated structure

The same five countries — the victors of World War II — have been the power players since 1945: the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France. They are the only permanent members of the powerful, 15-seat Security Council. Each has veto power, which has led to near-paralysis at the council on some major crises like Syria and Ukraine.

Critics say the council simply doesn’t represent the world today. At its inception, the U.N. had 51 member states. It now has 193, many of them clamoring for more clout. All countries are represented in the General Assembly, but that body can only pass nonbinding resolutions.

Often mentioned as countries deserving of permanent Security Council seats are Germany, Japan, India, South Africa, Nigeria and Brazil. But there are no signs the big five intend to give up any power or share it with more countries.

Unwieldy organization

The U.N. has become a sprawling system with 15 autonomous agencies, 11 semi-autonomous funds and programs, and numerous other bodies. There is no central entity to oversee them all. The secretary-general, currently Ban Ki-moon, can try to coordinate their actions but he has no authority over many of them.

The cumbersome structure was recently blamed for the World Health Organization’s delay in recognizing the Ebola epidemic. The WHO’s country directors in Africa report to the Africa regional director, not WHO headquarters in Geneva. And the WHO’s director in Geneva does not report to the secretary-general in New York.

Increasing demands

The U.N. is almost constantly asking its member states to contribute troops for its far-flung peacekeeping missions, currently numbering 16. The number of peacekeepers has risen to a record 130,000 — compared to 11,000 at the end of the Cold War — but the system is under severe strain. More than 100 peacekeepers have died this year and dozens have been taken captive.

The world’s refugee population has soared amid a growing list of humanitarian crises. The U.N. refugee agency is trying to help over 51 million people forced from their homes and displaced inside or outside their country, the highest figure since the U.N. began collecting those data in the early 1950s. The U.N. humanitarian office is tackling a record of four top-level emergencies — in Africa and the Mideast — as well as Ebola.

Unreliable funding

Raising money is a constant problem with so many crises vying for the world’s attention. Many U.N. agencies and humanitarian operations are funded by voluntary contributions, and appeals aren’t getting enough donations. On Monday, the World Food Program suspended a food voucher program serving more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees after many donors failed to meet their commitments.

All 193 member states contribute to the U.N.’s regular budget and a separate peacekeeping budget, but some countries are chronically behind on their payments. In early November, members owed about $3.5 billion for regular operations and peacekeeping.

Political horse-trading

There is widespread behind-the-scenes jockeying for top jobs in the U.N. Secretariat and U.N. agencies, not to mention seats on key bodies like the Human Rights Council and the Security Council. Every country belongs to a regional group that lobbies to ensure it is well represented. There is often criticism that those who get the seats are not the best qualified, such as dictatorships elected to the rights council."


Comment: UN personnel are unelected and unaccountable to their major funders, US taxpayers, can commit a crime anywhere on earth without fear of prosecution (parag. 4). The US political class continues to flood UN parasites with US taxpayer cash on a no-strings basis.


No comments:


Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
I'm the daughter of an Eagle Scout (fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Mets) and a Beauty Queen.