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World


US charges expected in UN corruption probe involving Macau developer -source

By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK, Oct 6 (Reuters) US authorities plan to announce charges in a corruption investigation involving United Nations officials and a billionaire real estate developer from the Chinese territory of Macau, a person familiar with the matter said today.
Details were not immediately available. But the source said the charges related to last month's arrest of Ng Lap Seng, a Macau-based developer accused of lying to US customs officials about why he brought 4.5 million dollars in cash into the United States.
A spokesman for Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office previously charged Ng, declined to comment. Alex Spiro, Ng's lawyer, said his client committed no crime.
Ng and his assistant, Jeff Yin, were arrested on September 19. Prosecutors said they falsely claimed that 4.5 million dollars they brought into the United States from China from 2013 to 2015 was meant for gambling or buying art, antiques or real estate.
US prosecutors say Ng has a fortune of 1.8 billion dollars, 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 UN as holding leadership positions.
Those included Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador John Ashe, the former president of the UN General Assembly. According to an agenda for a UN event in Macau in August, Ashe was co-chairman of Sun Kian Ip Group Foundation.
Adam Rogers, an assistant director at the UN Office for South-South Cooperation, said Ng made hosting that UN event possible.
He called today's reports linking a bribery probe involving UN officials to Ng "upsetting," saying he believed the developer's motivations were to simply facilitate hosting an important meeting.
The UN event occurred less than a month before Ng and Yin, 29, were arrested.
At a September 19 court hearing, prosecutor Daniel Richenthal said Yin, after being arrested, revealed funds were used to pay people "to engage in unlawful activities." Yin's lawyer has disputed that account.
Ng's name previously surfaced in US investigations into how foreign money might have been funneled into the Democratic National Committee before the 1996 elections. He was never charged.
REUTERS JW AS1834
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