Ng Lap Seng, the Chinese billionaire who created a firestorm of controversy in Dominica, was convicted on Thursday in a United Nation bribery case, which according to reports highlights the trading of cash for influence at the international body.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement Thursday evening, after the conviction, that Ng “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,” he wrote. “Ng’s journey from a Macau real estate mogul to convicted felon should serve as a cautionary tale to all tempted to follow his path. If you bring corruption to New York — whether to the State Capitol in Albany or to the halls of the U.N. General Assembly – your journey may very well end in a Manhattan federal courtroom, with a unanimous jury announcing your guilt.”
Prosecutors argued that from 2010 to 2015, he bribed two U.N. ambassadors with hundreds of thousands of dollars to support his project to build a U.N. conference center in Macau.
However, his defense lawyers refuted this, stating that Ng only paid money when he was asked to do so in order to speed the project along.
The 69-year-old now faces a possible prison sentence of more than 60 years behind bars after he was convicted of six charges including bribery, money-laundering, and corruption.
His attorneys have vowed to appeal.
Controversy in Dominica
Ng Lap Seng was appointed a diplomat of Dominica and was among many who in recent times found themselves in hot water with the law. Others include Iranian, Alireza Zibahalat Monfared and former Nigerian minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke. Their cases shone the international spotlight on Dominica and have been the topic of much discussion in Dominica.
It is unknown whether Ng is still a Dominican diplomat since there has been no public statement on the matter from the government.
Questions began arising in Dominica when Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit was seen in a photograph with Ng and others in Macau before his arrest last year.
In early October 2015, the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) asked Skerrit “to come clean” in his relationship to Ng.
In a letter dated October 30, the UWP wrote to Skerrit demanding his resignation in the matter.
In the letter, the party said Dominica “has been plunged by your (Skerrit’s) dangerous affiliation with an alleged ‘Macau Crime Lord’ now charged for international racketeering, money laundering, and other crimes …”
But Skerrit’s legal team legal team did not take the matter lightly with Senior Counsel, Anthony Astaphan, describing the letter as disrespectful and malicious against a sitting Prime Minister.
He said an FBI’s investigation into the matter has been going on for five years and an affidavit made public by the FBI did not mention Dominica nor the Prime Minister.
“The affidavit has been circulated publicly, 37 pages longs, 53 paragraphs of detailed analysis of emails and evidence and not the slightest mention of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit or Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica,” Astaphan noted.
He stated the matter has to do with politics.
“We think it is absurd and outrageous that a man could put pen to paper like that to try to bring the country into disrepute simply as part of his own political gain …” he said.
For his part, last year the Prime Minister said he had no association with the FBI investigation that was going on at that time.
At a press conference on Friday, October 9th, 2015 he appeared incredulous that he was even being asked to comment on the matter.
“I mean, you are really asking that question?” he asked, followed by much laughter.
Through chuckles, he added, “The FBI told you that they are interested in me?”
“I am telling you, madam, that I have no association with this matter,” Skerrit noted. “None. And there is no authority in this world that is interested in Roosevelt Skerrit in any undue manner. None whatsoever. You should ask Mr. Linton about his information.”