By Meleasie Goviro – EM TV News, Port Moresby
Suspended deputy United Nations ambassador from the Dominican Republic, Francis Lorenzo, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges that he participated in a scheme to bribe former UN General Assembly President, John Ashe.
Lorenzo is the third defendant to plead guilty to charges arising out of the case US prosecutors announced in October, involving a scheme starting in 2011 to pay more than $1.3 million (USD) in bribes.
As part of an agreement to cooperate in the US investigation, Lorenzo admitted in federal court his engagement in conspiracies to commit bribery and money laundering.
“Lorenzo has chosen to plead guilty and accept responsibility for his criminal conduct. He’s very remorseful for his conduct, he joined in the conduct of his co-defendants and committed the crimes of bribery and money laundering,” said Lorenzo’s attorney outside the Manhattan US district court house.
Lorenzo admitted he facilitated bribe payments from Ng Lap Seng, a billionaire real estate developer in Macau, to Ashe.
He admitted the bribes were paid to Ashe seeking UN support of a UN sponsored conference centre in Macau.
Prosecutors said those bribes included more than $500,000 that Ng, paid Ashe through intermediaries including Lorenzo and Jeff Yin, Ng’s assistant.
Lorenzo however did not received bribes himself from Ng said the prosecutor.
Ashe also received more than $800,000 from Chinese businessmen to support their interests within the United Nations and Antigua.
Those bribes were arranged through Sheri Yan, who was the Global Sustainability Foundation’s chief executive, and Heidi Hong Piao, the foundation’s finance director.
Both women pleaded guilty in January.
Ashe, Ng and Yin have pleaded not guilty.