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In UN Bribery Case of Ng Lap Seng, UNDP Claims Gamblers Excluded, Guterres Spox Stonewalls

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 13 –In the ongoing UN bribery trial of Ng Lap Seng, on July 13 a UN witness, for which the UN only partially waived its claimed immunity, testified that Ng Lap Seng as a gambling casino magnate should have been excluded from any business with the UN Development Program, or all review of dealing with him "escalated" to then Administrator Helen Clark. The witness, Simon Hannaford of UNDP, was walked through UNDP documents about due diligence and yes, the UN Global Compact. But Ng Lap Seng gave money to UNDP's Office of South South Cooperation, for the Macau event that had UN Secretariat (and UN Correspondents Association) attendance. So who has been held accountable? Inner City Press rushed from the courthouse and to the UN noon briefing, through the tourist entrance since the UN Department of Public Information and the Spokesman Stephane Dujarric had it evicted and still restricted. But when Inner City Press asked Dujarric simple questions, such as about the scope of the waiver the UN gave for Hannaford's testimony and who has been held accountable for taking Ng's money, Dujarric refused to answer a single question. Dujarric claimed that OSSC, which has not held any press conference, is accessible and transparent. False. The questions must be answered. Dujarric's response was to call on Inner City Press dead last in the next press conference. Watch this site. On July 12 government witness Francis Lorenzo described how he named the "bribery conduit" South South News, and the origins of the MDG / South South Awards which came to include UN officials from Cristina Gallach through Susana Malcorra to Sigrid Kaag, as well as Ban Ki-moon. While Lorenzo repeatedly claimed to not remember e-mails he had sent and received, he bragged of meeting Forest Cao and Ng Lap Seng and traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada, all supposedly in order to combat poverty. He said he had fun choosing bands for the award shows, even claiming he did it on behalf of the Dominican Republic. Ng Lap Seng's defense lawyer Tai Park analogized Ng to Ted Turner of the UN Foundation. Troublingly, the government appears poises to present the UN, via a lawyer whom UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric when Inner City Press asked at the UN noon briefing on July 12 declined to even confirm, as a rule-based place that Ng abused. But wasn't it the Department of Public Information's Cristina Gallach who allowed Ng and his proxies to buy events? Didn't the UN defend the other corruption groups named in court on July 12? We'll have more on this. As Inner City Press first reported on July 11 it then emerged that the US Government will be putting on a UN witness, Simon Hannaford. He is the chief legal officer of the UN Development Program, which played a role in the dubious faux UN conference held in Macau, and failed to oversee the UN Office of South South Cooperation. But what about the UN Secretariat, which doctored a General Assembly document to include the name of Ng's company? We'll have more on this - and this: an email was cited in court on July 11 in which Bangladesh's then-Ambassador Abulkalam Abdul Momen conspired with Francis Lorenzo on how to insert a paragraph from the Macau meeting into a Group of 77 and China resolution in the General Assembly. Back in 2015, Inner City Press tweeted a photo of Lorenzo, John Ashe, Monem and still Dominica Prime Minister Skerrit, the lone head of state at the Macau meeting. While reference was made on July 11 to Antigua selling passports for money, the program of Dominica - though which Ng, who later glowered at Inner City Press - netted one of his five passports was not brought up. Should the prosecution expand the case, to this and to target the UNreformed UN more directly? In court on July 11 the name of Forest Cao was repeatedly cited. He recruited for South South News and when he died in 2014 South South News, through John Ashe's then spokesperson, issued a memorial video inside the UN, here. In this video, Forest Cao is shown not only with Sri Lanka's Mahinda Rajapaksa but also Rajapaksa's UN Ambassador (and former UN legal official) Palitha Kohona, who rented an apartment from UN Correspondents Association president Giampaolo Pioli. For reporting that, Pioli vowed to use the UN Department of Public Information - which also did business with Ng Lap Seng - to get Inner City Press out of the UN. This Pioli accomplished, with ex-DPI now UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric in 2016, when Inner City Press sought to cover an UNCA event in the UN Press Briefing Room to see if and how Ng Lap Seng's and UNCA member South South News' exposure for corruption was discussed. We'll have more on this. On July 11 Inner City Press attended the proceedings as former Dominican Republic Deputy Ambassador and South South News chief Francis Lorenzo testified for the Government, then got cross-examined. For the Government, Lorenzo identified his e-mails with then Bangaldesh Ambassador Monem, to insert pro-Ng paragraphs adopted at a faux UN event in Macau into a Group of 77 and China draft for the UN General Assembly. Under cross examination he repeatedly said he couldn't remember, about other people's including relatives' bank accounts he used to evade taxes. During this phase Ng Lap Seng, the Macau based businessman who used South South News to buy his way into the UN, through the UN Department of Public Information, looked pleased. But when Inner City Press, which the UN evicted and restricts for its coverage of the corruption, took his photo leaving court back to his house arrest, he glowered. More on this soon - and on uncoming UN aspects of the case. The UN seemed to have no one in the courtroom on July 11, but the US Mission to the UN's Legal Advisor was there listening. More on this soon, too. Jury selection ran from June 26 through June 28 (Periscope here), on July 11 former Dominican Republic Deputy Ambassador and South South News chief Francis Lorenzo started to describe the corruption at the United Nations. Now on July 11 the prosecution has opposed Ng's lawyers using videos including that "contain statements that Lorenzo made about the defendant, including statements about the defendant’s character."

At the UN, Inner City Press on July 11 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the South South News videos that made their way into UN Television's own archives. Dujarric, who was responsible for UNTV during the time frame, declined to explain, and also again refused to explain why the UN refused to share with the Department of Justice the list of people interviewed for the partial-admissible UN Task Force Report. We'll have more on this. In court on July 10, U.S. Judge Vernon Broderick allowed prosecutors to ask Lorenzo about his romantic relationship with Julia Vivi Wang, who Lorenzo said held the purse strings for defendant Ng Lap Seng's media organization, South-South News.

The Law360 report quotes Lorenzo that he was single at the time he had a casual relationship with the married Wang in 2011 and 2012, adding that "Ng allegedly paid Lorenzo to draft and get the UN General Assembly in 2012 to adopt a document related to the center, later revising it to list Ng's company in 2013." One key UN fact: the GA document was "revised" by an official in the UN Secretariat, as a fraudulent "technical" revision, and no one has yet been identified or held accountable. Lorenzo was making $72,000 a year from his country, when Ng Lap Seng started paying him $20,000 a month and put him in charge of South South News despite, Lorenzo testified, having never done journalism in his life. (The UN Department of Public Information, with now-spokesman Stephane Duajrric in charge of television, put Ng's and Lorenzo's South South News' content in the UNTV archives; Dujarric repeatedly refused to explain to Inner City Press how this happened.) Lorenzo described how UN General Assembly President John Ashe, since mysteriously killed by his own barbell, became part of the push for Ng's company Sun Kian Ip Group to procure UN Secretariat documents to build a multi-billion dollar convention center in Macau. Ng's lawyers, who are preparing to cross-examine Lorenzo, 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. On July 6, Inner City Press asked UN holdover Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I want to ask you about the Ng Lap Seng case.  It's obviously continuing, but there are now… it has emerged in… in court filings that the defendant, Ng Lap Seng, charged with bribery in the UN, intends to introduce certain UN documents, including past versions of the Office of South-South Cooperation's website in his defense.  And so the prosecution, the Department of Justice has asked him to disclose that.  He says he's not going to disclose it yet.  What I wanted to ask you as it turns out, we never did get a press conference by the Office of South-South Cooperation.  Can you now get a statement from them on changes they've made to the website since the case broke and why they made them?  Because it becomes… it's not a question of… it's a UN question about an unresolved, never…?

Spokesman:  I mean… listen, I think… I think the Office has responded to your questions and you're welcome to ask them again.

Inner City Press: Are you sure?

Spokesman:  Yes.

  But it's not true: OSSC never held the long promises press conference.  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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