He’s the latest public figure to be charged with corruption.
U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday (October 6) accused John Ashe, former president of the United Nations General Assembly, of taking more than $1.3 million in bribes from Chinese businessmen to support their interests through UN-sponsored projects.
Five other people, including a billionaire Macau real estate developer, were charged for engaging in the vast corruption scheme.
John Ashe, Antigua and Barbuda’s former ambassador to the UN, was president of the UN General Assembly from 2013 to 2014. According to a complaint filed in a federal court in New York, he was paid more than $500,000 to tell the U.N. secretary general that a multibillion-dollar U.N.-sponsored conference center (which has yet to be built) was needed in Macau.
The complaint said Ashe solicited bribes in various forms, including expensive watches, payments to cover a New Orleans family vacation and construction for a private basketball court at his house in New York.
According to his lawyer, Ashe plans to use his diplomatic immunity to fight the charges.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who announced the arrests of Ashe and the other defendants, said the investigation could result in more charges as authorities examine whether “corruption is business as usual at the United Nations.”
“If proven, today’s charges will confirm that the cancer of corruption that plagues too many local and state governments infects the United Nations as well,” Bharara said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is “shocked and deeply troubled” by the allegations, his spokesman said.
“If proven, this is an attack at the very heart of the integrity of the United Nations,” said the General Assembly’s current president, Mogens Lykketoft.