Ex-UN General Assembly chief accused of accepting bribes

Former UN General Assembly chief, John Ashe, has been charged with bribery among other official figures

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon greets UN General Assembly President John Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda, at UN headquarters in New York, in a September 24, 2013

John Ashe, ex-president of the UN General Assembly and a former ambassador to the UN for Antigua and Barbuda, is now facing charges of accepting $1.3 million in bribes in exchange for assisting a proposed UN conference center in Macau endorsed by Chinese businessman Ng Lap Seng, according to court documents released on Tuesday.

Last month, the real estate mogul, Ng, was arrested and placed in jail in New York for smuggling more than $4.5 million in cash into the US territories over a period of two year.

Ashe, who had served as the president of the UN General Assembly for a period of one year starting from September 2013, was accepting bribes from Ng and four others from the years of 2011 to December of 2014, as stated in the documents.

"Among other things, Ashe accepted over $500,000 from Ng, who was seeking to build a multibillion-dollar, UN-sponsored conference centre in Macau," the complaint said.

More officials could potentially be included within the investigation, as reported by Al Jazeera's James Bays, from the UN headquarters in New York.

"There are six people, including the former president of the General Assembly, one of the most important offices in the UN," Bays stated.

"There is real shock at some of the allegations that were read out by the US attorney."

As he has been charged of spending the money allegedly obtained by bribes on Rolex watches, a BMW and Bespoke suits.

Ashe presented an appeal to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, "which claimed that there was a purported need to build the UN Macau Conference Centre," in exchange for the payments from Ng.

The former Antiguan ambassador to the UN also received $800,000 in bribes from different Chinese businessmen to promote their activities at both the UN and with the Antigua government, the documents read.

Ashe also took bribes to cover personal expenses, including family trips and the development of a basketball court at his house in the state of New York, as reported by the AFP news agency.

Ban Ki-moon stated that he was astonished and heavily worried by the accusations targeting Ashe.

UN Secretary General’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric stated that the charges filed against Ashe "go to the heart of the integrity of the United Nations."

TRTWorld and agencies