Thursday, July 20, 2017

In UN Bribery Case of Ng Lap Seng, Videos of Ban Ki-moon & Lorenzo, UN Business Card

By Matthew Russell Lee, Photo

UNITED NATIONS, July 19 –In the ongoing UN bribery trial of Ng Lap Seng, on July 19 the prosecution showed the jury wire transfers of $200,000 labeled "Lorenzo Wires" for government witness Francis Lorenzo, as well as one of Lorenzo's business cards, found in the possession of Ng's accountant Jeffrey Yin, who like Lorenzo has pleaded guilty. The UN's repeated attempts to distance itself from the corruption being documented in the Federal courthouse in lower Manhattan are, it is becoming clear, merely evasions. Also entered into evidence were videos and photographs of then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with Lorenzo and others, similar to those arranged at the Cipriani's ball of the UN Correspondents Association, which accepted payment for full page ads from Ng's and Lorenzo's South South News.

 Here is Inner City Press' Periscope video after leaving the courthouse (which does not allow cameras or phones to come in), here the rushed re-entry into the UN, with UN Security in view. We'll have more on this. On July 17 the defense argued to get into evidence videos including one of a visit to South South News and a number of UN Ambassadors by the Dominican Republic's then-President Leonel Fernandez Reyna. Video here

South South News was a bribery conduit, its funds used for gambling in Las Vegas and Atlantic City while the UN's Department of Public Information let SSN's content into UNTV archives and let Ng fundees have impermissible events in the UN. On July 18, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here:Inner City Press: yesterday, down in court in the Ng Lap Seng/John Ashe case, a number of things came out... Given what's been revealed in the case about South-South News connection to a bribery scheme, maybe you'll answer it from the podium or if you could, I would just ask you, not just as to the Office of South-South Cooperation, but, as to UNTV, a division of the Department of Public Information, to determine whether an agreement was ever reached and what their statement is about this South-South News material still in UNTV archives.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first of all, I don't have any comment on the ongoing trial, and I wouldn't have that as that proceeds.  Regarding South-South News, last year, it ceased to have its accreditation as a media outlet at the UN, and there's no arrangements with South-South News, which is not accredited.

Inner City Press: But, my question is, if you go today to UNTV, just plug in the name, you'll find this material that went in.  The question is, given the way in which this bribery scheme penetrated the UN, what steps have been taken?  Was an agreement ever reached? It's a simple yes-or-no question.  Was an agreement ever reached during the time frame — has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of Ng Lap Seng — between South-South News and the Department of Public Information?

Deputy Spokesman:  Like I said, I don't have any comment on the information that comes out in the trial.  What I can say, clearly, there is no agreement with South-South News, which is not accredited as a media outlet at the UN.

Inner City Press: Right, but that's not the question.  The question is:  was there an agreement?

Deputy Spokesman:  That's where we stand with them now.  And, as for details in the trial, that will come out as part of the trial process.

Inner City Press: Right, but whether he's exonerated or not, the UN has cited immunity, and so that's why I'm asking you just a factual question.

Deputy Spokesman:  That the information we have.  You know, if you're asking me about South-South News' status, that's what it is.  It does not have accreditation, and it does not have a contract with UNTV.  Have a good afternoon, everyone.

   Ng as it turns out had a resolution to dissolve South South News in October 2012, then apparently cut his funding to it by one-third. The defense wants to introduce a video taking Macau in August 2015, with Ng translated - badly - by a "Stanley" from Sun Kian Ip Group, but the government opposes it. Just then, Inner City Press had to leave due to UN censorship. Before that, South South News was shown to have been simultaneously "in partnership with the UN" and paying for the Las Vegas gambling of Francis Lorenzo and Vivian Wang. South South News also paid for full page ads with the UN Correspondents Association, which provided the venue for photos of Ng with UN officials including Ban Ki-moon. But in December 2012, Ng's lawyers showed, South South News was nearly out of business until Lorenzo flew to China and presented Ng with a business plan about partnering with the UN. Somehow the UN is arguing it is not implicated in the trial. The day was ending with arguments about the admissibility of videos from the August 2015 Macau event attended by UN and UNCA officials. But Inner City Press has to leave mid-argument, due to the UN still restricting it to entrance only until 7 pm for having sought to cover an UNCA event held in the UN Press Briefing Room, to see if UNCA's acceptance of funds from South South News would be discussed. Despite obfuscations, information has emerged that not only did Ng's South South News place at least 17 videos in UNTV articles, but its links with the UN and DPI were more extensive. Watch this site. Ng makes the argument that Francis Lorenzo, who has pleaded guilty, was in fact "open and notorious" even as the UN Department of Public Information put his material in their archives, and the UN Correspondents Association took his and Ng's money for full page ads, providing a venue for Ng's photos with then Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Ng's lawyers' most recent letter says, "Lorenzo was open and notorious about his role as an officer of South-South News (including receiving checks directly from South-South News into his bank account), which strongly suggests that he did not believe the payments he received in that capacity were bribes." Of course, Lorenzo also funneled the payments through the bank accounts of his sister and other relatives. On July 13 a UN witness, for which the UN only partially waived its claimed immunity, testified that Ng Lap Seng as a gambling casino magnate should have been excluded from any business with the UN Development Program, or all review of dealing with him "escalated" to then Administrator Helen Clark. The witness, Simon Hannaford of UNDP, was walked through UNDP documents about due diligence and yes, the UN Global Compact. But Ng Lap Seng gave money to UNDP's Office of South South Cooperation, for the Macau event that had UN Secretariat (and UN Correspondents Association) attendance. So who has been held accountable? Inner City Press rushed from the courthouse and to the UN noon briefing, through the tourist entrance since the UN Department of Public Information and the Spokesman Stephane Dujarric had it evicted and still restricted. But when Inner City Press asked Dujarric simple questions, such as about the scope of the waiver the UN gave for Hannaford's testimony and who has been held accountable for taking Ng's money, Dujarric refused to answer a single question. Dujarric claimed that OSSC, which has not held any press conference, is accessible and transparent. False. So on July 14, Inner City Press asked again, specifically about accountability at the Department of General Assembly and Conference Management, where a GA resolution was changed to include Ng Lap Seng's company's name, and the Department of Public Information. Video here. This time Dujarric said that "the audit" shows that there was an "issue of judgment," not malfeasance at DPI. Well, here is the audit. And, while at DPI Dujarric was in charge of UNTV when, mysteriously, video of Ng' South South News got incorporated into UNTV archives. We'll have more on this. Watch this site. On July 12 government witness Francis Lorenzo described how he named the "bribery conduit" South South News, and the origins of the MDG / South South Awards which came to include UN officials from Cristina Gallach through Susana Malcorra to Sigrid Kaag, as well as Ban Ki-moon. While Lorenzo repeatedly claimed to not remember e-mails he had sent and received, he bragged of meeting Forest Cao and Ng Lap Seng and traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada, all supposedly in order to combat poverty. He said he had fun choosing bands for the award shows, even claiming he did it on behalf of the Dominican Republic. Ng Lap Seng's defense lawyer Tai Park analogized Ng to Ted Turner of the UN Foundation. Troublingly, the government appears poises to present the UN, via a lawyer whom UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric when Inner City Press asked at the UN noon briefing on July 12 declined to even confirm, as a rule-based place that Ng abused. But wasn't it the Department of Public Information's Cristina Gallach who allowed Ng and his proxies to buy events? Didn't the UN defend the other corruption groups named in court on July 12? We'll have more on this. As Inner City Press first reported on July 11 it then emerged that the US Government will be putting on a UN witness, Simon Hannaford. He is the chief legal officer of the UN Development Program, which played a role in the dubious faux UN conference held in Macau, and failed to oversee the UN Office of South South Cooperation. But what about the UN Secretariat, which doctored a General Assembly document to include the name of Ng's company? We'll have more on this - and this: an email was cited in court on July 11 in which Bangladesh's then-Ambassador Abulkalam Abdul Momen conspired with Francis Lorenzo on how to insert a paragraph from the Macau meeting into a Group of 77 and China resolution in the General Assembly. Back in 2015, Inner City Press tweeted a photoof Lorenzo, John Ashe, Monem and still Dominica Prime Minister Skerrit, the lone head of state at the Macau meeting. While reference was made on July 11 to Antigua selling passports for money, the program of Dominica - though which Ng, who later glowered at Inner City Press - netted one of his five passports was not brought up. Should the prosecution expand the case, to this and to target the UNreformed UN more directly? In court on July 11 the name of Forest Cao was repeatedly cited. He recruited for South South News and when he died in 2014 South South News, through John Ashe's then spokesperson, issued a memorial video inside the UN, here. In this video, Forest Cao is shown not only with Sri Lanka's Mahinda Rajapaksa but also Rajapaksa's UN Ambassador (and former UN legal official) Palitha Kohona, who rented an apartment from UN Correspondents Association president Giampaolo Pioli. For reporting that, Pioli vowed to use the UN Department of Public Information - which also did business with Ng Lap Seng - to get Inner City Press out of the UN. This Pioli accomplished, with ex-DPI now UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric in 2016, when Inner City Press sought to cover an UNCA event in the UN Press Briefing Room to see if and how Ng Lap Seng's and UNCA member South South News' exposure for corruption was discussed. We'll have more on this. On July 11 Inner City Press attended the proceedings as former Dominican Republic Deputy Ambassador and South South News chief Francis Lorenzo testified for the Government, then got cross-examined. For the Government, Lorenzo identified his e-mails with then Bangaldesh Ambassador Monem, to insert pro-Ng paragraphs adopted at a faux UN event in Macau into a Group of 77 and China draft for the UN General Assembly. Under cross examination he repeatedly said he couldn't remember, about other people's including relatives' bank accounts he used to evade taxes. During this phase Ng Lap Seng, the Macau based businessman who used South South News to buy his way into the UN, through the UN Department of Public Information, looked pleased. But when Inner City Press, which the UN evicted and restricts for its coverage of the corruption, took his photo leaving court back to his house arrest, he glowered. More on this soon - and on uncoming UN aspects of the case. The UN seemed to have no one in the courtroom on July 11, but the US Mission to the UN's Legal Advisor was there listening. More on this soon, too.