NEW YORK (AP) — A Chinese billionaire's former chief assistant awaiting trial in a United Nations bribery case wants a judge to toss out statements he made to the FBI after his arrest, saying he hadn't slept in more than 24 hours when he was questioned.
Jeff Yin said in a declaration in Manhattan federal court he was suffering from a lack of sleep when he was arrested in September 2015. He said an agent who identified himself as Ryan told him answering questions was for his benefit and investigators just wanted him to clarify some things.
He said he was told agents "weren't after me" and only wanted him to answer some questions.
"As the interrogation went on and I asked the agents some clarifying questions, I started to understand that they weren't there to help me and I started to feel scared," he wrote in a letter dated September from Yorbalinda, California, where he's awaiting a January trial in Manhattan.
Yin was the chief assistant to Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng. Prosecutors say more than $1 million in bribes was paid to U.N. diplomats from 2011 through 2014 by Ng and other Chinese businessmen who hoped to gain support for projects, including a conference center Ng hoped to build in Macau, where he lived.
Yin and his former boss have pleaded not guilty. When they were arrested, prosecutors said they had lied about plans for $4.5 million in cash brought into the U.S. over several years aboard private jets.
Yin said in his declaration that he arrived in the United States on Sept. 16, 2015, after an 18-hour flight from Beijing and had a long work day on Sept. 17. He said on Sept. 18 he went to work at 7 a.m. and later that day went to a casino with Ng, who doesn't speak English, to help with interpretation and to provide logistical assistance. He said they didn't leave the casino until 5 a.m. and he was arrested hours later in his hotel lobby.
In court papers submitted with the declaration, Yin's attorneys wrote that Yin had no experience with the criminal justice system and trusted the FBI agents he encountered.
Yet, they wrote, agents repeatedly misled Yin before reading him his rights.
"Under the totality of the circumstances, including that Mr. Yin's arraignment was unnecessarily delayed and he was threatened with jail if he did not waive his rights, his statements were involuntary," they said.
Prosecutors didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.