A Former United Nations(UN) General Assembly President, John Ashe was charged by the United States Attorney General on Tuesday for allegedly taking part in a scheme to receive $1.3 million in bribes to conduct official actions supporting Chinese business interests. Charged with him are the Deputy UN Ambassador for the Dominican Republic Francis Lorenzo, and three other defendants. Ashe faces two counts of subscribing to false and fraudulent income tax returns.
Ashe was elected President of 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly elected by acclamation on June 15, 2013. Before his election. he was the Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the UN.
The Attorney General’s office believes Ashe has been accepting bribes since 2011 facilitated by Lorenzo. According to the complaint, Lorenzo approached Ashe in 2010 to take part in the scheme. Lorenzo invited Ashe to Macau, China, to meet one of the other defendants, Ng Lap Seng, who was seeking support for a UN Macau Conference Center.
In exchange for submitting reports to the UN in support conference center, Ashe allegedly began soliciting money from Ng. Lorenzo also hired Ashe’s wife to be a “climate change consultant” in his non-governmental organization. According to the US Attorney, Ashe also solicited other businessmen who wanted to invest with Antiguan government officials. He allegedly failed to report this income in his 2013 and 2014 income tax returns.
As President of UNGA Ashe in his inaugural speech had promised in 18 months, the world body would launch an agenda for sustainable development for all, which “may very well be the boldest and most ambitious project that the United Nations has ever had to accomplish. In order to succeed, the General Assembly needs to be equally bold, ambitious and collaborative if we are to rise to the task we are about to undertake and ensure its completion,” he said, adding “failure is not an option. Let us show the world…we can be bold and decisive in our actions.”