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US unveils new charges in UN bribery case

In an ongoing UN bribery case, US prosecutors have pressed criminal charges against a Chinese-born woman. Julia Vivi Wang was allegedly involved in a scheme to pay bribes to a former UN General Assembly president.

The defendant was charged with money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering on Friday and was due to appear in Manhattan federal court later that day.

Julia Vivi Wang is accused of having paid a bribe of at least $500,000 (443, 085 euros) to buy Antiguan diplomatic positions for her late husband and another Chinese businessman.

Ongoing case

Wang is just one of several defendants facing criminal charges over what prosecutors called a scheme to pay more than $1.3 million in bribes to John Ashe, a former UN ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda who was General Assembly president from 2013 to 2014.

US authorities first

charged Ashe with accepting the bribes

in October 2015. Speaking at the time, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was "shocked and deeply troubled" by the revelations.

"Corruption is not business as usual at the UN," Dujarric added.

'What I was doing was wrong'

Friday's charges against Wang came just days after Francis Lorenzo, a US citizen who served as a foreign diplomat from the Dominican Republic pleaded guilty in the same bribery case - the third defendant to do so.

The 48-year-old entered the plea to six charges, including conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and tax counts.

Lorenzo admitted on Wednesday that he facilitated bribe payments from Ashe and Ng Lap Seng - a billionaire real estate developer in Macau. Ng was arrested on separate charges last month, on suspicion of misleading US authorities about millions of dollars in cash he had brought into the US aboard private jets.

ksb/kms (Reuters, AP)

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