Antigua and Barbuda national, John Ashe, who served as United Nations General Assembly President from 2013 to 2014, has been charged with taking bribes of more than US$1.3 million from Chinese businessmen, including Macau developer Ng Lap Seng.
According to media reports, the arrest of Ashe along with his co-accused follows from the Sept. 19 arrest of Ng Lap Seng and his assistant, Jeff Yin. Both men were arrested for falsely claiming that US$4.5 million they brought into the U.S from China between 2013 to 2015 was meant for gambling, buying art, antiques and real estate. Ng Lap Seng has a fortune of $1.8 billion; earned primarily from developments in Macau.
U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara who is leading the investigation has stated that they will be looking deeper into these charges and seeking to find out more whether bribery is business as usual at the U.N
He stated that there is a possibility of others being charged.
Bharara said Ashe "converted the United Nations into a platform for profit" when bribery opportunities were dangled before him by the Chinese billionaire.
He further stated: "The cancer of corruption that plagues too many local and state governments infects the United Nations as well. United in greed, the defendants allegedly formed a corrupt alliance of business and government, converting the UN into a platform for profit."
The charges specific to Ashe are that he was treated to a vacation in an $850-a-night suite in New Orleans. $30,000 private basketball court at his Dobbs Ferry, Westchester County home. $59,000 on hand-tailored suits, $54,000 on two Rolexes, $40,000 on BMW payments and $69,000 to join a luxury vacation club.
According to reports, it is still unclear whether Ashe is protected by diplomatic immunity as a U.N official. His bail was set at $1 million.
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, is reported to have commented to the Associated Press that his government would fully co-operate with U.S. authorities on the ongoing investigation.
Ashe is understood to have been appointed to the U.N by the previous Baldwin Spencer government.
Browne is quoted as further stating; "This has serious implications for the country. You're talking about an international platform for peace and global security being used for corrupt purposes," he said.