The Latest: Ex-UN General Assembly president gets $1M bail

AP News
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Posted: Oct 06, 2015 7:24 PM
The Latest: Ex-UN General Assembly president gets $1M bail

NEW YORK (AP) — The latest on allegations that former United Nations General Assembly President Josh Ashe accepted bribes to help a Chinese real estate mogul and other businesspeople gain investments and government contracts (all times local):

7:15 p.m.

Bail has been set at $1 million for a former United Nations General Assembly president charged in connection with a bribery conspiracy.

John Ashe was also ordered Tuesday to wear an electronic bracelet to secure his appearances in Manhattan federal court on tax charges. Prosecutors say Ashe accepted $1.3 million in bribes from 2011 through 2014 from Chinese businesspeople to obtain his support for the construction of a multibillion dollar conference center in the Chinese region of Macau.

It was unlikely he would be released Tuesday. His lawyer told reporters outside court he expects Ashe to be vindicated. The government opposed bail.

Ashe was the only one of six people charged in connection with the bribery conspiracy to have bail set. The others were detained.

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3:55 p.m.

The government of Antigua and Barbuda says a former United Nations General Assembly president who has been charged in connection with a bribery conspiracy holds no position in the government.

A government statement sent to The Associated Press on Tuesday says John Ashe was U.N. ambassador under the former United Progressive Party government and was replaced when the Labor Party government was elected in 2014.

It says the government learned of Ashe's arrest from media reports. It noted that the complaint also identifies senior officials in the former government as well as the former prime minister, Baldwin Spencer.

The statement says, "The present government of Antigua and Barbuda has implemented and upholds the highest standards of good governance and accountability." The government says it will continue to monitor the situation.

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3:40 p.m.

The current president of the U.N. General Assembly says it will be up to member states to decide whether to create more transparent vetting and disclosure requirements for the world body.

Mogens Lykketoft also told reporters Tuesday that there has been no discussion of doing any review of former General Assembly President John Ashe's record in the post.

Lykketoft says, "Corruption has no place in the United Nations or anywhere else."

He added that "if there are more people in the U.N. involved in this, I don't know."

Lykketoft took up his post less than a month ago. He says so far there have been no private donor subsidies for travel during his presidency.

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12:55 p.m.

The United Nations is defending itself against a prosecutor's claims that a bribery case against a former United Nations General Assembly president and five others might just be the tip of the iceberg.

The spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters Tuesday that "corruption is not business as usual at the U.N."

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric spoke shortly after U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara told reporters his investigation was continuing and his office plans to be asking if bribery is "business as usual at the U.N. as the probe proceeds."

Former President John Ashe was arrested Tuesday, a year after finishing a yearlong stint in the largely ceremonial post. It wasn't clear who will represent Ashe in court against charges he accepted over $1 million in bribes.

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11:55 a.m.

A federal prosecutor has formally announced a bribery conspiracy case against a former United Nations General Assembly president, a billionaire Chinese real estate mogul and four others.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in New York said Tuesday that John Ashe sold himself and the global institution he led while he served in the largely ceremonial post for a year in 2013 and 2014. He also was an ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda at the time.

The prosecutor says the charges show that the "cancer of corruption that plagues too many local and state governments infects the United Nations as well."

It was not immediately clear who will represent Ashe in court.

The billionaire businessman, Ng Lap Seng, and his chief assistant were arrested two weeks ago. Their lawyers didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.

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9:05 a.m.

U.S. prosecutors say former United Nations General Assembly President John Ashe took more than $500,000 in bribes from a Chinese real estate mogul and other businesspeople.

In exchange for the money, federal prosecutors say, Ashe used his position as Permanent Resident to the United Nations for Antigua and Barbuda and General Assembly head to help the businesspeople gain investments and government contracts from 2011 through 2014.

Prosecutors say some of the bribe money was used to pay for Ashe's family vacation and to construct a basketball court at his home in Dobbs Ferry, New York.

In all, six people, including another diplomat, were ensnared in the probe.

Ashe was arrested Tuesday and is being held.

No one answered a phone call to the mission for Antigua.

Ashe's legal representation isn't clear.