Ng Lap Seng Demands New UN Bribery Trial, Citing Testimony on South South News, OSSC
UNITED NATIONS, September 27 — Two months after the UN bribery verdict of six guilty counts against Ng Lap Seng was delivered by the jury on July 27, now Ng’s lawyers have filed a motion for a new trial, arguing that government witness Francis Lorenzo committed perjury including about the UN and its office of South South Cooperation, and South South News. See portions of Ng’s motion, below.
On August 16 Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for his response to the verdict. He scoffed and walked off. Video here. Now from Ng’s memorandum of law: “On direct examination, the government elicited testimony from Lorenzo that he and Ashe had power over Yiping Zhou, who was then the director of the UNOSSC, and that they used that power to cause Yiping Zhou to take the two brand new official actions that the government had now injected into the case: sending support letters from the UNOSSC, and signing the Pro Bono Agreement with Mr. Ng. (See, e.g., Trial Tr. 764–766.) In particular, Lorenzo testified that Yiping Zhou (1) drafted a letter for Lorenzo to request support from the UNOSSC in November
2013 (GX339, GX340; Trial Tr. 1217–1227); (2) issued a support letter in January 2014 to Lorenzo identifying Sun Kian Ip Group (“SKIG”) as the company tasked with establishing a conference center in Macau (GX142; GX982; Trial Tr. 666–670); (3) issued another letter to SKIG in June 2014 (GX977; Trial Tr. 1314–1316); (4) issued another letter to the Sun Kian Ip Group Foundation in February 2015 that referred to a long-standing request from John Ashe (GX238; Trial Tr. 1346–1349); and (5) ignored normal partner selection criteria signing the Pro Bono Agreement in December 2014 (GX205, GX995, Trial Tr. 670–676). According to Lorenzo, all of these actions resulted from pressure that he and Ashe exerted on Zhou in exchange for bribes… Lorenzo testified extensively about payments made to Ashe’s wife Dr. Anilla Cherian, who was paid by South-South News (“SSN”) as a consultant between 2011 and 2014. According to Lorenzo, in January 2014, Mr. Ng asked for a list of the staff and consultants working at SSN because he was considering reducing its workforce. (Trial Tr. 1258.) Lorenzo testified that he told Mr. Ng that they “should continue having Anilla because she’s John wife and [they] needed John to continue his support on the expo and the letters that we were needing.” (Id.) The government presented no other evidence to corroborate that testimony — but nevertheless relied on that alleged conversation in its closing to argue that Ng intentionally channeled payments to Dr. Cherian in exchange for favorable treatment from Ashe. (Trial Tr.
3902–03.) Lorenzo also testified that in November 2013, Ashe told him that he wanted SSN to pay for a reception he hosted at the United Nations, and that Lorenzo talked to Yin to ask for the funding. (Trial Tr. 1232.) Lorenzo further testified that Jeff Yin did give him $20,000 in cash for the reception, and that Lorenzo later gave $16,000 of that money to Ashe (and kept the remaining $4000 for himself). (Trial Tr. 1236–37.) Once again, the government presented no other evidence to corroborate that testimony, but relied on that evidence in its closing to establish the alleged bribery scheme.”
We’ll have more on this, and the UN’s unseemly role, now being further exposed. The last head of the UN Department of Public Information Cristina Gallach did no due diligence as Ng Lap Seng’s fundees like South South News bought events in the UN lobby and even the UN’s slavery memorial (UN audit here), then evicted Inner City Press which asked her about her connections with Ng’s South South Awards. New head of DPI Alison Smale has done nothing about this: Inner City Press is still restricted.
On September 6 Inner City Press having obtained more documents from the prosecution of Ng asked Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the duty to report of UN Security that accompanied John Ashe, Francis Lorenzo and others in a clear corrupt visit to Macau. Dujarric, who has refused 18 of the last 21 written questions from Inner City Press including on UN corruption,refused to say what the duty to report was, or is in today’s UN. This stonewalling continued on September 8, even as the same officer appeared in the UN Press Briefing Room guarding outgoing PGA Thomson. Inner City Press asked Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: had asked you, I think, I don’t know if it was yesterday or the day before, if you’ve looked into what the rules are for the… the UN security people that that went with John Ashe to Macau and that… that will presumably keep offering close protection to future PGAs (Presidents of the General Assembly). If crime is witnessed by the UN, and this… and I’m… as I go through those exhibits, it’s pretty clear that the first trip, there was nothing hidden about it. I’m… I’m not blaming the guard. I guess what I’m asking you is what are the rules? What is the protocol for someone assigned by… from UN DSS (Department of Safety and Security) to accompany a UN official if they witness what’s, as it turns out, a crime? Spokesman: “Staff rules are applicable to everyone, and I will leave it at that.” Here is one of the photographs, of UN Security with Ashe, Frances Fuller, Paulette Bethel and Ng Lap Seng, guilty of six counts of UN bribery and money laundering, and others. More on this to follow. The UN is UNreformed. There event on August 25 in the UN’s ECOSOC Chamber — which Inner City Press for 18 months and counting has required a UN “minder” to reach — by a group linked to Carlos Garcia, shown in the Ng trial to have aided money laundering. Today Inner City Press publishes this email from Garcia, to help Ng wire money to Francis Lorenzo through a relative in the Dominican Republic. Here on Patreon. And here’s Garcia at the founding of Guterres’ August 25 host. We’ll have more on this. How far will the UN go to get positive media coverage, and to punish and hinder, if still not prevent, critical oversight? Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s 2015 to Honduras and El Salvador was given entirely positive coverage by South South News, the $300,000 a month bribery conduit of nowconvicted Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng. Click here for that coverage, still online. Now in emails obtained and published by Inner City Press, it is shown that South South News president Francis Lorenzo, who has pleaded guilty, wrote to UN official Yiping Zhou about the coverage: “Dear yiping enclose see the first report of our coverage of the trip of the SG to El Salvador.” Zhou wrote back, “Great job covering the SG’s visit. We should do more for the SG, and other heads of UN organs especially also for our UNDP Administrator Helen Clark. Please find my letter of support” — a letter supporting Ng’s now-disgraced, never-built Macau conference Center. So the UN supported Ng’s corrupt plan, in response to positive coverage of Ban Ki-moon by Ng’s South South News. Zhou was Ban Ki-moon’s personal Envoy on South South Cooperation. And like Zhou’s letter for Ng’s project, Ban wrote a “personal ‘Thank You’ note” to South South News Afaf Konja “for her coverage of his official visit, calling her a ‘champion for South-South Cooperation.’” These names came up repeatedly during the Ng Lap Seng prosecution, begun by then-US Attorney Preet Bharara with the question, Is bribery business as usual at the UN? The answer was and is, Yes. And when Inner City Press pursued the Ng Lap Seng bribery scandal, seeking to cover a meeting of the UN Correspondents Association who took full page ads from Ng’ South South News and provided the venue for Ng’s photo op with Ban (Cipriani 42nd Street), Inner City Press was evicted from the UN Press Briefing Room, then its long time office in the UN, where it still remains restricted under Ban’s successor Antonio Guterres. On August 16, Inner City Press asked Guterres about the Ng guilty verdicts; Guterres declined to answer. The UN still contains corruption, and still punishes and restricts the Press which covers it. Beyond the corruption, it is a conflict of interest to have the same UN Department which views its role as promoting positive coverage of the UN be the one to decide, without rules or free press constraints, which media get full access, and which like Inner City Press are evicted and restricted. The incoming head of the UN Department of Public Information Alison Smale, replacing Cristina Gallach who partied at Ng’s South South Awards and did no due diligence on his events and sponsorships in the UN, will have to deal with this. We’ll have more on this. On August 17 Inner City Press asked Guterres’ deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about trial exhibits it has begun to receive, on Meena Sur and the Global Compact, for first examples. Video here; from the UN transcript here, text below. On August 18, Inner City Press asked Haq about another of the many exhibits, moving closer to home: UN transcript here: Inner City Press: as these exhibits from the Ng Lap Seng trial continue to come in, I wanted to ask you, I was surprised to see it, because it wasn’t, at least the days that I went, presented in the trial. There are documents that show that the office, UN Office of South-South Cooperation, wrote a letter supporting the conference centre in Macau, specifically after South-South News covered a Ban Ki-moon trip. I think they were the only media to cover it, and afterwards, they were congratulated by the Office of South-South Cooperation, and a letter was produced by Mr. Yiping Zhou supporting the conference center. From the document, it appears that the UN system as a whole, whether the Secretary-General knew or not, essentially rewarded positive coverage of this Ban Ki-moon trip with a letter for a conference centre that’s now been totally discredited and was not built because it was based on bribery. And I wanted to know, what is the UN’s position on this? What is… I know Mr. Yiping Zhou has left, but what was the connection between the South-South News travelling with and covering Ban Ki-moon’s trip and this letter that was given to the, the Sun Kian Ip Foundation to build a conference centre in Macau?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, I’m not aware of any connection.
Regarding concerns about South-South News, we’ve explained to you at the time what our concerns had been about South-South News and its activities. They are no longer accredited, and the Office of South-South Cooperation, as you know, had undergone different reforms under its new leadership, and I believe they’ve been in touch with you about that.
Inner City Press: My question really at this point goes to the Secretariat, if you see what I’m saying, because the… the activity of South-South News that UNDP’s [United Nations Development Programme] Office of South-South Cooperation was rewarding with this letter was coverage of the Secretary-General’s trip. So was this done with no knowledge by the Secretariat… by the Secretariat?
Deputy Spokesman: We, we don’t, we don’t “reward” coverage of trips by Secretaries-General. I mean, there are many trips. Many, many outlets cover them.
Deputy Spokesman: If they were all getting rewarded for them, that would be lots and lots of rewards to hand out. Have a good weekend, everyone.
From August 17: Inner City Press: now that the Ng Lap Seng verdict has been rendered, Inner City Press has been obtaining the exhibits. And I wanted to ask you, because, even going back and looking at the audit, several things were not solved. Number one, there’s now specific emails involving current DGACM (Department of General Assembly and Conference Management) employee Meena Sur to Francis Lorenzo regarding the insertion of the name Sun Kiang Ip Group into a GA (General Assembly) document, that’s referenced in the audit. Many people say Mr. [Ion] Botnaru retired. That’s why nothing was ever done. I guess what I want to know is, what’s been done? Is there some explanation, again, of a current UN official having worked on the insertion of this company name into a GA document improperly?
Deputy Spokesman: Regarding the general issue, without getting into the cases of specific individuals, the fact is the Department of Management has followed up on the various conclusions brought in by these reports and has made sure that all actions are properly undertaken.
Inner City Press: There’s another email, which is the Global Compact responded to Francis Lorenzo actually but about Sun Kiang Ip Group joining the Global Compact. And it said, “We’ll get back to you after review of one or two weeks.” So, I wanted to know, in terms of the Global Compact, given that Sun Kiang Ip Group is involved in casinos and other businesses, what review on the front end… I know it’s often said, once you join the Global Compact, the only thing that’s required is the filing of reports, not anything substantive. But what review is done if, in fact, a casino business itself already involves controversy at the time can join?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, I believe the Global Compact on its own website tells you exactly what its priorities are and what it asks of incoming members, so I would just refer you to that.
Inner City Press: So how do they join?
Deputy Spokesman: No, just look at the website. It shows you what it expects from incoming members. Have a good afternoon, everyone.
On October 7 Judge Vernon S. Broderick allowed Ng to remain under house arrest, at least pending sentencing. Ng’s $4 million 47th Street apartment, across the street from what was the office of his South South News, was called “not large” despite its 3,100 square feet. On August 7, he was allowed to remain out of jail. In the hearing, which Inner City Press attended, it emerged that Ng has had a closed-door masseuse four to ten hours a day, who also cooked for Ng’s guards for “Guidepost Solutions LLC,” whose Brendan P. Finn acknowledged visitors are not body searched and conversations in Chinese are not understood. Inner City Press rushed north to the UN and at Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ spokesman’s noon briefing asked for a list of any UN affiliated person has visited or had contact with Ng since his indictment in October 2015. Video here. The spokesman, Stephane Duajrric, said no, apparently without checking. Ng has hired Paul D. Clement for his appeal. It’s a nice life if you’ve got money. More to follow. Inner City Press began asking the UN about the people still at the UN who were shown to have worked for or taking money from Ng, or both. So far the UN has done nothing. For example, the trial exposed the role of Carlos Garcia, former Salvadoran Ambassador and since then a bridge for NGOs, in helping “free” Lorenzo’s bribe money from Ng. On August 4, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcripthere: Inner City Press: has to do with the Ng Lap Seng case, believe it or not. In the case, among the evidence that… that came out leading to the guilty verdict was evidence of former Permanent Representative of El Salvador, Carlos Garcia, assisting Francis Lorenzo in getting ill-gotten gains released from the Dominican Republic. I’ve asked you about him before because, since serving as a permanent representative, he seems to be a kind of bridge to NGOs [non-governmental organizations]. He had an NGO called Global Governance for the UNSDGs. I still see him around 1B squiring people around. So, my request to you is, given… and, again I don’t know if OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] tracked the case or not. Given what was shown on the screen and put into evidence regarding his assistance in Mr. Francis Lorenzo getting bribe money released, does he have some, he has some kind of a pass. Is there some kind of emeritus status for diplomats, or how it does it work?
Spokesman: I’m not aware of any em… emeritus, yeah, emeritus status except for journalists, so I will look into it. Thank you.
We’ll see — and we’ll follow up. For further example, during the trial an email was shown that current UN official Meena Sur emailed back and forth helping on the brochure for Ng’s fraudulent UN conference center. But even today, in the Department of General Assembly and Conference Management organogram, Meena Sur is the chief of the “Documents Management Section.” Documents for Ng Lap Seng. There is a history here: for the Dominican Republic mission, that is Francis Lorenzo, Meena Sur was also involved with a shadowy IGO “World Sports Alliance,” heavily involved in mining but not sports. See for example this: “The World Sports Alliance (WSA) team briefed President Leonel Fernandez on his 19th September visit to Baruch College of the City University of New York during Hispanic Heritage Month. The World Sports Alliance is a multi-stakeholder partnership launched by XL Generation Foundation, Give Them a Hand Foundation, and the Informal Regional Network of the NGO Section/DESA that uses sports to create local economic development and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Ambassador Francis Lorenzo of the Mission of the Dominican Republic to the UN facilitated the meeting. Ms. Meena Sur, Programme Officer of the NGO Section/DESA, Mr. Gordon Tapper,
President of Give them a Hand Foundation, as well as Mr. Alain Lemieux, President of
the WSA, attended the President’s speech at the college as Special Guests of thePermanent Mission of the Dominican Republic.” More on this soon — who in the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services followed up on any of this? The UN is corrupt — and incompetent. DGACM’s UN Journal for August 3 calls that day, a Thursday, “Tuesday.” Photo here. We will continue on this. Where is OIOS under Heidi Mendoza? They never followed up on the blatant conflict of interest of DPI chief Gallach, who appears in OIOS’ own cover-up audit of the Ng Ashe affair, in evicting Inner City Press, and leaving it still restricted. The UN is corrupt.UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq who has repeatedly dodged questions about the case from Inner City Press was quoted by Reuters that the UN was “a victim of these crimes” and later that “We are exploring the possibility of requesting restitution as a victim to these crimes, including recovering expenses incurred to provide the requested cooperation.” On July 31, Inner City Press asked Haq’s also holdover boss Stephane Dujarric to explain how this could be, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: last week, as you know, Ng Lap Seng was found guilty in one day on six charges of bribery, foreign corrupt practices act, money-laundering. And I just want… I really want to understand this. I’ve been looking at the idea that the UN will be… is… considers itself a victim of the case and will be requesting restitution as a victim. And I wanted to understand. It was said by Farhan [Haq], and I didn’t have a chance to ask him about… is this just OLA [Office of Legal Affairs] trying to… in the same way as Haiti cholera, cover itself by saying we’re a victim, we bear no responsibility, or is it literally António Guterres’ position that the UN should be paid for a process in which its own DGACM [Department of General Assembly and Conference Management] gave a document to the guy? There are still people here that worked on the proposal… I want to understand…
Spokesman: I think the overall point is that the UN was used for what it appears for criminal activity by the gentleman who was found guilty.
Inner City Press: Right, but what about the office South-South Cooperation? Is there any guilt on the side of the UN side? Mr. Yiping Zhu that left immediately upon the indictment, is… was he victimized? Did he not understand what he was doing?
Spokesman: Mr. Yiping Zhu is no longer a staff member of this organization.
Inner City Press: Right, but doesn’t an organization have some responsibility for what its people do?
Spokesman: I will leave it at that.
We won’t. Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Haq on July 28 to explain how the UN is the victim, and how it dares say it should be get for corruption. Video 8 from Minute 8:40. Haq said, This is the position of our Legal Council. Now Inner City Press has asked above. Watch this site. The UN even refused to tell the prosecution whom it spoke to for its Task Force Report, which said it has no ethical standards. The UN will ask for money, while paying nothing to the 10,000 people it killed in Haiti? Reuters doesn’t even raise that — it has a conflict of interest. UN official Ion Butnaru put the name of Ng’s company Sun Kian Ip Group into a General Assembly resolution long after it was voted on, took a free trip to Macau and an iPad there. Victim? Ng’s company South South News bought full page ads in the ball program of the UN Correspondents Association, then went to their ball at Cipriani and got photos with then Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. (Reuters then as now had a seat on UNCA’s board, something not disclosed in its coverage of Ng and the UN). A current UN official Meena Sur was shown in the trial to have held on Ng’s brochure for his planned Macau conference Center. The UN remains UNreformed. Inner City Press, which has covered the scandal from the beginning and remains restricted by the UN for its coverage, rushed down to the courthouse and asked Ng Lap Seng, as he left by the side door to Worth Street, what he thinks of the UN and those there who took his money and favors, a list well beyond John Ashe and Francis Lorenzo. Periscope video here. He did not answer, understandable. He will be back in court on August 7 for arguments on if his house arrest can continue. Before Ng left, Inner City Press witnessed his lawyers leaving. They told the judge they will appeal. But now that Ng is guilty, will the UN act on those exposed as corrupt, and reverse its censorship?
Ng Lap Seng’s $3 billion UN convention center plan had been assisted by Meena Sur, still working for the UN Department of General Assembly and Conference Management. Inner City Press asked the UN spokesman Farhan Haq, who dodged by saying the UN was waiting for the verdict. But the UN is not on trial, because it has and cited immunity.
Likewise, high UN official Navid Hanif attended Ng Lap Seng’s murky event in Macau in August 2015, and remains at at the UN. Spokesman Haq refused to answer about him, while telling Inner City Press that lower UN staff member Frances Fuller “separated from service” in September 2016, just after Inner City Press asked about her.
Francis Lorenzo, who took more money from Ng than the now deceased John Ashe, was given a UN.org email address by DGACM despite never being pictured among Ashe’s Special Advisers, and never giving up his day job as the Dominican Republic’s Deputy Permanent Representative.
Even on July 26, DGACM’s Executive Officer told Inner City Press that the UN still hands such UN credential to anyone whom a President of the General Assembly tells them too. So nothing has been reformed.
The Department of Public Information under Cristina Gallach took Ng Lap Seng’s money for its slavery memorial, and allowed fraudulentevents in the UN lobby. But UN lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who allowed the content of Ng’s South South News to be included in UNTV archives under his watch, said this was just an issue of “judgment,” not malfeasance.
The UN Correspondents Association, to whom Dujarric “lent” the UN Press Briefing Room then evicted and still restricts Inner City Press for seeking to cover the event to see if they discussed taking South South News’ money and providing a venue for Ng’s photo op with Ban Ki-moon, did not have a single member correspondent covering the month-long UN bribery case. Other dubious events were being hosted.
And so, while awaiting the jury’s verdict on Ng Lap Seng — which may be not guilty given how corrupt the UN and the star witness against him Francis Lorenzo have been shown to be — it is clear that the UN has not reformed and remains corruption and a censor, seven months into the reign of “new” Secretary General Antonio Guterres. It is the UN that should be prosecuted, or invited to leave. Watch this site.
Legal footnotes: counsel to Ng Lap Seng, Park Jensen Bennett, Partners Tai H Park and Douglas Jensen in New York; and Alexandra Shapiro in New York; Assistant US attorneys Douglas Zolkind, Janis Echenberg and Daniel Richenthal of the US Attorney’s Office, David Last, on detail with the criminal division fraud section’s FCPA unit.