Prosecutors have formally charged the ex-UN official with accepting more than a million dollars in bribes. The case has raised concerns about corruption within the international governing body.
Former UN General Assembly President John Ashe was formally indicted by New York prosecutors on Wednesday for enaging in a corruption ring that also involved a billionaire Macau real estate developer.
Originally from Antigua and Barbuda, the 61-year-old Ashe presided over the General Assembly from 2013 to 2014. He is accused of accepting more than $1.3 million (1.14 million euros) from various real-estate developers between 2011 and 2014 in exchange for promoting the construction of a UN conference center in Macau.
Four other people were also charged with participating in the bribery scheme, including the Macau-based real estate developer Ng Lap Seng and a suspended UN diplomat from the Dominican Republic named Francis Lorenzo.
Ashe was arrested two weeks ago and is now free on bail.
Concerns over corruption
UN officials reacted with shock after the arrest, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman insisting Ashe's actions were not representative of the intergovernmental organization's practices.
"Corruption is not business as usual at the UN," Stephane Dujarric told following the arrest.
Prosecutors said members of the corruption ring relied heavily on Ashe, who allegedly failed to report gifts and money he had received for particpating in the scheme.
In response to the scandal, Secretary-General Ban launched an audit on two of the organizations allegedly involved in bribing Ashe.
blc/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)