News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ban Ki-Moon's brother and nephew charged in New York City with corruption, money laundering, and conspiracy in scheme to bribe a Middle Eastern official-Reuters, BBC

"Federal papers say the two even tried to secure a meeting to discuss the deal with that country's head of state during his visit to New York during an annual UN general assembly meeting. BBC

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1/10/17, "U.S. charges former U.N. chief Ban's relatives in bribery case," Reuters, Nate Raymond

"Two relatives of former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon have been indicted on U.S. charges that they engaged in a scheme to bribe a Middle Eastern official in connection with the attempted $800 million sale of a building complex in Vietnam.

Joo Hyun "Dennis" Bahn, a New York real estate broker who is Ban Ki-Moon's nephew, and his father Ban Ki-sang, Ban Ki-moon's brother who was a senior executive at South Korean construction firm Keangnam Enterprises Co Ltd, were charged in an indictment unsealed on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.

Bahn is in custody and expected to appear in court later on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. Defense lawyers could not immediately be identified.

The charges came after Ban Ki-moon stepped down on Dec. 31 after serving two five-year terms as U.N. Secretary-General.

Ban Ki-moon was not charged. A former foreign minister of South Korea, Ban is expected to enter the race to become the country's next president, though he has yet to declare his intention to do so. He could not be immediately reached for comment.

According to the indictment, in 2013, Keangnam was facing a liquidity crisis and turned to Bahn to secure an investor for a Vietnamese building complex called Landmark 72 in exchange for a potential $5 million commission.

Rather than obtain financing legitimately, Bahn and Ban Ki-sang engaged in a scheme to pay bribes to an unnamed Middle Eastern official to convince his country's sovereign wealth fund to acquire Landmark 72, the indictment said.

The bribes were paid through Malcolm Harris, a self-described arts and fashion consultant and blogger who was also charged and who the indictment said claimed to be an agent of the official.

Based on communications with Harris, in April 2014, Bahn and Ban Ki-sang agreed to pay an upfront $500,000 bribe and another $2 million upon the sale's closing, the indictment said.

But Harris did not have the relationship he claimed with the official, the indictment said, and stole the $500,000, which he spent lavishly.

As Keangnam's liquidity crisis worsened, Bahn - believing the bribe had been paid and would work out - schemed to trick Keangnam and its creditors into believing the sovereign wealth fund was close to acquiring Landmark 72, the indictment said.

But when the deal ultimately failed to materialise, Keangnam entered into court receivership in South Korea, according to court papers."

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BBC article

"Federal papers say the two even tried to secure a meeting to discuss the deal with that country's head of state during his visit to New York during an annual UN general assembly meeting.
  

"Prosecutors have charged relatives of former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with conspiracy to bribe a government official.

Mr Ban's younger brother and his nephew stand accused of offering money to a Middle Eastern official, through an American middleman.

They allege the two men bribed the official to use state funds to buy their building project.

Mr Ban served as UN secretary general from 2007 until 2016.

He was succeeded by former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres on 1 January 2017. Mr Ban is now being seen as a possible future president in his home country of South Korea.

Reuters quoted his spokesman as saying Mr Ban was unaware of the circumstances surrounding the allegations against his relatives. 

Prosecutors say that in early 2013 the South Korean construction firm Keangnam, of which Mr Ban's brother Ban Ki-sang was an executive, was faced with growing debt and sought to sell a building complex in Vietnam known as Landmark 72.

In a 39-page indictment unsealed on Tuesday at a Manhattan courthouse, prosecutors alleged that he and his son Joo Hyan "Dennis" Bahn, a Manhattan estate agent, stood to make millions of dollars in commission on the sale, valued at up to $800m (£657m). 

US officials say that the two men paid millions of dollars in bribes and tried to trade on the prominence of their South Korean family name in order to persuade a Middle Eastern official from an unnamed country to arrange a purchase of the complex by that country's sovereign wealth fund.

Federal papers say the two even tried to secure a meeting to discuss the deal with that country's head of state during his visit to New York during an annual UN general assembly meeting.

Mr Bahn, who has pleaded not guilty, was released on bail. 

According to the indictment, a $500,000 initial bribe was paid to US businessman Malcolm Harris who presented himself as an agent of the official, with another $2m promised upon the closing of the sale.

But Mr Harris allegedly double-crossed Mr Bahn and his father and made off with the money. Neither Mr Harris nor Mr Ban Ki-sang have been detained.

"This alleged bribery and fraud scheme offends all who believe in honest and transparent business," said Manhattan Attorney General Preet Bharara, "and it stands as a reminder that those who bring international corruption to New York City, as alleged here, will face the scrutiny of American law enforcement." 

M Ban's relatives are charged with corruption, money laundering and conspiracy."





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