A federal jury in Manhattan Thursday found Macau billionaire Ng Lap Seng guilty of bribing two United Nations officials in exchange for help promoting development of a conference center.
Ng, 69, was convicted following a four-week trial.
The jury found him guilty on all six counts he faced.
He was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, one count of paying illegal bribes and gratuities (domestic bribery), two counts of violating the FCPA, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and one count of money laundering.
He faces up to five years in prison for the FCPA-related offenses, up to ten years in prison for the domestic bribery conviction, and up to 20 years in prison for the money-laundering charges.
Ng was first charged in October 2015 with domestic bribery, currency smuggling, and tax-related crimes. The DOJ added the FCPA charges by a superseding indictment in November 2016
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said after the verdict: “In his unbridled pursuit of even greater personal fortune, billionaire Ng Lap Seng corrupted the highest levels of the United Nations. Through bribes and no-show jobs, Ng turned leaders of the league of nations into his private band of profiteers.”
The DOJ said Ng paid at least $1 million in bribes to Francis Lorenzo, a former deputy ambassador from the Dominican Republic, and John Ashe, a former UN General Assembly president and ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda.
Lorenzo pleaded guilty to bribery and money laundering. He testified for the prosecution in Ng’s trial. He’s waiting to be sentenced.
The DOJ charged Ashe with taking bribes. He died in an apparent accident five days before a hearing scheduled in his own trial in New York City.
The Westchester County Medical Examiner’s office said Ashe died from “traumatic asphyxia with laryngeal cartilage fractures” after he dropped a barbell on his neck.
Ng was trying to develop a lavish conference center in Macau. He bribed the UN officials to win support and bypass normal UN procedures.
He’s on bail but under house arrest at his New York City apartment. The judge set a bail hearing for August 7.
In addition to Lorenzo, Jeff Yin — an accountant who worked with Ng — and Hedi Hong Piao have pleaded guilty in the case and are waiting to be sentenced.
Shiwei Yan — also known as Sheri Yan — pleaded guilty in January 2016 to paying Ashe more than $800,000 in bribes. She was sentenced to 20 months in prison.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.