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Dominican ambassador arrested in UN corruption scandal

Francis Lorenzo, a 48-year old deputy UN ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations was named as an accomplice in a large-scale corruption scheme involving former president of the United Nations General Assembly John Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda, a billionaire real estate developer from Macao Ng Lap Seng and three others yesterday, Tuesday, 6 October 2015, as reported in the US media. The case is being heard in a federal court in Manhattan, New York.

Ashe is accused of receiving over half a million dollars in bribes from Chinese constructor Ng Lap Seng who was looking to develop the United Nations conference center in the Chinese territory of Macao. He is also accused of receiving thousands more in bribes from Chinese businesspersons to support their interests at the UN and in Antigua and Barbuda, his native country, which he represents at the UN.

Ng Lap Seng was detained last month by customs officers in New York, accused of bringing US$4.5 million into the country illegally.

According to the investigation, Ng made two payments of US$200,000 and US$300,000 to Ashe in exchange for asking the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon to award him the multimillion-dollar contract to construct a conference center in Macao. The provision of these payments was allegedly organized by Lorenzo.

The Dominican ambassador is accused of taking part in a “platform for profit” scheme in which one of the suspects allegedly accepted US$1 million in bribes and a trip to New Orleans in exchange for lucrative investment deals, investigators told the press.

Lorenzo had an administrative category at the embassy because as a US citizen he was not accredited as a diplomat by the US government. Diario Libre reported he received in wages US$7,500 from the Dominican government. Because he did not have diplomatic immunity, his arrest was easier for the US authorities.

Lorenzo faces one count of conspiracy to bribe a UN official and one count of payment of bribes for acting as the middleman between Ng and Ashe to facilitate the bribes.

Lorenzo was appointed to the post by President Leonel Fernandez in 2004. Diario Libre reports that Lorenzo was considered one of the closest ambassadors to the former President and a trusted associate. Diario Libre reports that Lorenzo coordinated all major functions for President Fernandez at the UN, universities, community colleges and other academic institutions.

The Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations, Francisco Cortorreal told Diario Libre that Lorenzo has always been a very active, dynamic ambassador known for fulfilling his responsibilities at the mission.

Source: DR1, Latinofox news

Oct 7, 2015

Category: DR News |

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