- Ng Lap Seng accused of paying UN officials to back center
- Ng's release on $50 million bail had been delayed until Monday
A Macau billionaire who allegedly bribed United Nations officials to win their endorsement of a conference center will be indicted by Tuesday, a federal prosecutor told a judge who had agreed to release the developer on $50 million bail.
Prosecutors said Ng Lap Seng, 68, chairman of the Sun Kian Ip Group, paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to former UN General Assembly President John Ashe and Francis Lorenzo, a Dominican Republic ambassador to the UN. Ng is one of six people arrested earlier this month in connection with two bribery schemes at the UN. Ashe and Lorenzo were also charged.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Richenthal told U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox in a letter Monday that prosecutors would file an indictment of Ng Tuesday, which would put the case before a federal judge. An indictment is the filing of formal charges by a grand jury that hears evidence in a case. It’s a key step to moving the case to trial.
“This is not a surprise,” Benjamin Brafman, Ng’s lawyer, said in an e-mail. “They have been threatening an indictment for weeks. Whether by complaint or indictment, Mr. Ng is presumed innocent and we have every reason to believe that he will ultimately be vindicated.”
Fox agreed on Oct. 16 to grant Ng’s release on bail and have him stay at a luxury Manhattan apartment near the UN under the watch of private armed security guards. Richenthal objected, arguing Ng has "vast" resources to help him flee to China, which doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the U.S.
Fox agreed to delay Ng’s release until Monday at 2 p.m. in order to give the government a chance to appeal his decision to a federal judge.
Richenthal said Ng and his lawyer now have agreed to delay the release until the close of business on Thursday.
Once Ng is indicted, he will enter a plea and if it’s not guilty then the case will move toward a trial. Ng was arrested last month, accused in a separate case of bringing $4.5 million into the U.S. and lying about its purpose to authorities.
The case is U.S. v. Ng Lap Seng, et al, 15-MAG-3562, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).