Local October 6, 2015 | 12:44 pm

Dominican diplomat nabbed in US$4.5M smuggling case: EFE

New York.- Thepresident of the UN General Assembly John Ashe and five others, including aDominican diplomat, have been arrested in connection with a multimillion-dollarcorruption case, US authorities announced Tuesday, EFE reports.

According to documentsreleased by tthe New York South District federal prosecutor, Ashe is charged oftaking US$500,000 in bribes from a builder who sought to develop a conventioncenter of the UN in the Chinese territory of Macao.

He had allegedly alsopocketed more than US$800,000 from Chinese businessmen to support theirinterests at the UN and in Antigua & Barbuda, his home country and which herepresented at the world body.

Both the diplomat andthe former UN Assembly chair from 2013 to 2014, as well as other defendants arein custody, Efe reports quoting sources close to the investigation.

Among those beingheld is Dominican diplomat Francis Lorenzo, the country’s deputy ambassador tothe UN, according to prosecutors.

At the center of thecase figures the developer Ng Lap Seng, arrested last month by customs agentsin New York, charged with smuggling US$4.5 million into the US.

According to theprobe Ng made two payments of US$200,000 and US$300,000 to Ashe in exchange forhis defense before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, of the construction of a conventioncenter in Macao, a project worth billions of dollars.

The payments wereallegedly provided by two of the defendants, including the Dominican, whoaccording to the prosecution was allegedly hired by Ng.

Ashe had repeatedly askedfor bribes, including vacation pay or the construction of a basketball court athis home in New York, authorities said.

In total the Antiguandiplomat deposited more than 3 million dollars from abroad between 2012 and2014, in two bank accounts in US allegedly linked to his presidency of theAssembly, from which he took money for personal expenses and transferred largesums to other accounts.

The court documentsreleased today list many details of the relationship between the defendants,including travel to locations around the world and e-mails.

Aside from embezzlement,Ashe is charged with tax fraud in the US for failing to disclose his incomeover US$1.2 million, allegedly obtained mostly from Ng and other tycoons.

Prosecutors estimate Ng´sfortune at around US$1.8 billion, obtained mostly through real estatedevelopments in Macao.

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