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In 1st UN Bribery Case, Ng Lap Seng Threatens to Use UN Documents Without Identifying Them

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 6 – In the UN bribery case against Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng, for which jury selection ran from June 26 through June 28 (Periscope here), Ng's lawyers have said they may use in his defense some UN documents which they have not yet specified. The prosecution has argued "defense counsel stated, 'We also have another document that is from the UN that we are going to introduce which is the secretary delegation members list.” (Tr. 138.) In addition, when sharing proposed opening slides, the Government learned that the defendant had printed out or downloaded two excerpts from UNOSSC websites that have never been produced or identified to the Government, but that the defendant asserted he intends to introduce at trial. The Government does not have a copy of the pertinent webpages, nor does it know whether the website from which they came is currently available or whether, in any event, the excerpts fairly and accurately capture the website." Inner City Press which has covered this inside the UN (and been thrown out by the UN for seeking to cover, in the UN Press Briefing Room, an event by a group funded by Ng's South South News, which will now host Secretary General Antonio Guterres' deputy Amina J. Mohammed) notes that the Office of South South Cooperation has refused to hold a press conference; the UN is hoping to cover this all up. Earlier, two filings revealed that the UN refused to provide information to the US Government for its prosecution, contrary to the UN's repeated statements to Inner City Press that the UN was cooperating. Now in opening statements, Ng's lawyer Tai Park said of Ng's $20,000 a month payments to Francis Lorenzo to run "South South News" (while serving as the Dominican Republic's Deputy Permanent Representative), "It's called wages, ladies and gentlemen, not bribes." Wages for what? As Inner City Press has reported, the UN Department of Public Information kept South South News with full not restricted access long after the indictment, and South South News-ers have returned to the UN. (This week there was a murky event in the UN which strongly echoed Ng Lap Seng's capture of DPI including a one-man painting exhibition in the UN lobby for which DPI did no due diligence, only evicted and restricts the Press which reported on it). Of Lorenzo, Prosecutor Douglas Zolkind said Ng began sending Lorenzo an extra $30,000 a month in late 2012 "for the express purpose of obtaining UN approval for the conference center." This involved getting the UN Secretariat to doctor a General Assembly resolution AFTER it was rubber stamped, and more. Watch this site. The prosecution's June 5 letter criticized the UN Task Force Report as self-serving. On June 28 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric to defend the UN Report. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you again about this Ng Lap Seng case as it moves up.  I've looked more closely in the court file, and this is something I'd ask you to respond to because it's not regarding guilt or innocence.  They're looking at that the US Government says of the UN task force report on weaknesses in funding of the PGA [President of the General Assembly] office that the report was prepared only by an ad hoc committee without any identifiable special skills or expertise, and it was motivated by a concern for the reputation of the entity that ordered it rather than to determine facts regardless of the impact on the entity's representation.  Do you think this UN report, which will be introduced, at least in part in the trial, is it something the UN stands behind as an objective report, or was it, as the Government seems to say, an exercise in…?

Spokesman:  Look, I'm not going to go…  I'm not going to argue what a party to this trial has to say.  The report was conduct… was ordered following the revelations regarding the former PGA.  It was put… it was conducted in order to see how the operations of the Office of the President of the General Assembly could be improved.  As… you know, as well as I do, the Office of the President of the General Assembly is one that is independent from the Secretary-General and over one he has no authority.

Inner City Press: But it's not just a party.  It's the prosecution that you've said that you're cooperating or have cooperated with.  I mean…

Spokesman:  I'm not going to comment on what… but I just stated our position regarding the report.

  The US Attorney's June 25 letter states, in footnote 1, that "the UN declined to identify to the Government all individuals who were interviewed in connection with the preparation of the Report." This Report is the UN Task Force Report, which Ng is trying to use to show that the UN had so few rules that his payments, including through South South News, weren't bribes but contributions. The UN should now answer for its refusal to cooperate in the prosecution of bribery within the UN. On June 27 Inner City Press asked Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for new Secretary General Antonio Guterres as for his two predecessors, but he refused to explain. Video here. UN transcript here: Inner City Press: Now that the UN bribery case  regarding Ng Lap Seng has begun — and it began yesterday in lower Manhattan — there's a filing dated 25 June.  This is a quote:  "The UN declined to identify to the Government all individuals who were interviewed in connection with the preparation of the report called the UN Task Force Report."   And this is being used by Ng Lap Seng to say he didn't bribe anyone because everyone bribes everyone at the UN, basically, is his defence.  And so, now, portions of the UN Task Force Report are not going to be produced to the jury because the Justice Department says the UN declined to identify, i.e., didn't cooperate.  I know I've asked you before about and you've said that the UN is fully cooperating with the authorities, and this is a statement in the letter by the Government to the court saying that that's not the case.  How do you explain it?  On what basis did the UN not provide this information as requested by the Government?

Spokesman:  We've cooperated extensively to facilitate the proper course of justice in this case.  The proceedings are ongoing, and I'm not going to make any comments while these proceedings are ongoing.

Inner City Press:  Do you see why it seems contradictory?

Spokesman:  You asked what you asked, and I said what I said.

On June 26, prospective jurors were summoned one by one up to speak to the judge, alongside Ng Lap Seng's lawyers and the prosecution. (White noise was turned on so they would not be overheard). Ng Lap Seng himself sat at the defense table, as he had sat at the UN Correspondents Association fundraiser where he bought access to Ban Ki-moon. In the courtroom on June 26, Inner City Press was spoken to by claimed Ng relatives, saying that Ng did nothing that others don't also do in the UN, pay money for access. That's true. During a break, US Marshals accompanied Ng up to the fifth floor bathroom. In the vending machines, 12 ounce sodas sold for a dollar. On the first floor, an ostensibly recycling garbage can had metal, plastic and garbage all going into the same bag, similar to the UN's fraud, now being exposed. Watch this site. Former South South News chief and diplomat Francis Lorenzo has been described in a Superseding Information as an "agent" of the UN, making it more difficult for the UN to dodge, despite it attempts to hinder Press coverage of the connections. Now in the run up to the trial, the judge has ruled on "evidence or argument concerning payments
made to the Antiguan Ambassador by those other than by Defendant Ng and/or the
media company." The media company is South South News - and in a new low, one of its main UN representatives has in June 2017 reappeared HIRED in the UN, at the UN Security Council no less. The UN is entirely corrupt. Meanwhile defendant Ng Lap Seng is trying to keep out of the upcoming trial his financial involvement with relatives of Jesse Jackson Jr (which again calls into question how the UN Department of Public Information didn't do even Google "due diligence," then evicted and restricts Inner City Press which asked DPI). Ng's filing quotes the government that "Mr. Ng made a loan to a UNOSSC employee who sought funding from Mr. Ng in order to pursue graduate studies." What has the UN done about any of this, beyond evicting and restricting the Press which is covering the story? On May 3, Inner City Press asked UN holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who not only didn't answer but also rebuffed a question about the UN in the DR Congo, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: John Ashe case and DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo[.  There are two new filings in the John Ashe case, and I wanted to ask you about, in particular, one of them is a superseding indictment of Francis Lorenzo, and it describes him in paragraph 3 as an agent of an organization, to wit, the UN did corruptly solicit and demand, etcetera.  But I guess what I’m wondering is, now, if the US Attorney is describing Mr. Francis Lorenzo as an agent of the UN, does this change the way the UN is looking at the case?

Spokesman:  We’re looking at the case.  I’m not aware that Mr. Lorenzo is an agent of the UN.  But, again, we’re looking at the case.  And, when we have something more to say, we’ll let you know.

Inner City Press: And another filing at the same time says that… that Ng Lap Seng provided money to and educational loans to a staff member of the Office of South-South Cooperation.  That’s not something I ever saw…

Spokesman:  Okay.  I… I… we have… obviously, we’re following the case.  I don’t have anything to say while the proceedings are ongoing.  Thank you.  I’m going to get Mr. Takasu.

  Lorenzo has now expanded his guilty plea to admit paying bribes to now deceased President of the UN General Assembly John Ashe, and soliciting bribes from Ng. Lorenzo will testify against Ng, whose motion to dismiss the case has been denied. But the UN is still in denial. On April 28 Inner City Press asked the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: Francis Lorenzo, the former head of South-South News and former Deputy Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the UN has expanded his guilty plea to a clear and clean admission of having bribed former PGA [President of the General Assembly], may he rest in peace, John Ashe, and he's going to testify against Ng Lap Seng.  It gives rise… this now seems to be previously just tax charges.  Now he's saying, on the record… taking responsibility, saying he knew it was wrong at the time that he did it.  So, my question is:  As the case… as the case gets more pointedly in terms of what took place inside the United Nations walls… and yesterday I saw the former DGACM [Department of General Assembly and Conference Management] individual, now retired, who I believe… it seems from the audit is the one that changed the document.  What is the ramification?  Was anything ever done for that changed document, and what is exactly OLA [Office of Legal Affairs] doing now that there's admission not just of tax charges or evasion, of bribery…?

Spokesman:  First of all, the alleged bribery you're referring to does not involve a staff member of the UN.  There were audits done, and the situation was looked at very carefully in the past two years, if my memory is correct.  We continue, obviously, to follow the developments in the case, and if we need to act upon anything that is revealed by the time the case is done, we shall do so.

Inner City Press:  But, I guess the goal of the bribery was to obtain a UN document saying that Macau Conference Center was needed, and that document was obtained from DGACM.  So, are you saying that somehow the actual… the ultimate act that they wanted was done without any…?

Spokesman:  That's not what I'm saying.

Inner City Press: But, what was done?  I saw the guy walking around.  Was there any repercussion of any individual named in the audit?

Spokesman:  As I said, as more information comes to light, we'll act upon it.

  Right. The corruption into which the UN sank during the tenure of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, whose head of the Department of Public Information Cristina Gallach did no due diligence as Ng bought illegal events in the UN and even the UN's slavery memorial, and DPI's censorship of and threats against the Press which reports on the Ng and South South News case has yet to be addressed or even stopped. This has been raised to the top of the Secretariat. Ng's associate Jeff Yin has also pleaded guilty to working to violate UN tax laws with South South News. The UN Department of Public Information evicted and still restricts Inner City Press for seeking to cover UN links to South South News; this month DPI has refused to explain the basis. On April 12 when Inner City Press about the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the guilty plea, he said SSN is "no longer" at the UN, as if that resolved it. It doesn't, and that has been raised. Video here; from the UN transcript: Inner City Press: question about this Ng Lap Seng, previously John Ashe, case.  There’s been now a guilty plea by John Ashe’s lone remaining co-defendant, Jeffrey Yin.  And in his guilty plea, he states that South-South News intentionally paid him in cash in order to evade US tax laws.  That’s what he’s pled guilty to. Given the supposed inquiry by the UN, what’s the response?  It’s not a matter of waiting until the end of the case.  This is a…

Spokesman:  My understanding is South-South News is no longer accredited as a news organization to the UN.

  Under Dujarric, South South News content was included in UN TV webcast and archives; Dujarric threw Inner City Press out of the UN Press Briefing Room for seeking to cover South South News payees in the UN, and worked on the UN misleading memo to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Paragraph 9 and 10, here.

  Ng is set for trial, but now an adjournment has been granted to May. The letter motion by Ng Lap Seng's lawyers cites a need to review "many thousands of pages of banking records, emails and other documents related to Jeff Yin, Mr.
Ng, Vivian Wang, SKI, and SSN, among others. We are still awaiting production of voluminous
documents, including information contained in DVDs and CDs seized from Vivian Wang’s
residence, tax information for a number of alleged co-conspirators, South South News
documents, phone records, and additional Ashe emails." So is the UN even checking out these new records, to reform itself? It seems not. On April 7 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here


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