The United Nations said Wednesday its office promoting cooperation between developing countries is reviewing a USD1.5 million donation from a foundation controlled by a Macau billionaire who has been linked to an alleged bribery case involving former U.N. General Assembly president John Ashe.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation is undertaking “a very close review” of its relationship with the Sun Kian IP Group Foundation, whose leader Ng Lap Seng has been charged with lying about plans for $4.5 million brought into the United States over several years aboard private jets.
Dujarric said the office will look “as deeply as possible into the money, where it went and what it was used for.”
Ashe, a former U.N. ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda who served in the largely ceremonial post as head of the 193-nation assembly from September 2013 to September 2014, faces tax fraud charges in what authorities call a conspiracy with five others including Ng.
The Office for South-South Cooperation said in a statement to The Associated Press late Wednesday that “all elements” of the foundation’s partnership with the office “are currently under review.”
It said the $1.5 million, together with support from national governments, U.N. agencies, non-governmental organizations and foundations, was used to organize conferences on South-South cooperation in Bangladesh in May 2015 and in Macau in August 2015.
In addition, the office said the money is being used to support preparations for a ministerial-level South-South Conference on Science and Technology and a summit of the Group of 77 developing countries on South-South Cooperation to be held in 2016. It said money is also going to support the World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty and for a South-South technology exchange.
“The disbursement of funding on these initiatives was carried out in full compliance with U.N. standards and guidelines,” the office said. “All disbursed funds were tracked and accounted for, and there is no evidence that any funds received… were misdirected or misappropriated.”
Dujarric responded to a question asking what the United Nations is doing right now in terms of launching a separate investigation saying “we are continuing to study the complaint.” Edith M. Lederer, AP
partner denies knowledge of center
William Kuan Vai Lam, a business partner to Ng Lap Seng, has denied any knowledge of the reported “South-South” U.N. –sponsored conference center project in Macau. Kuan, a member of the board of directors of the SKY group, attended a phone-in-program on TDM’s Chinese-language radio channel, and said that the group’s projects would be unaffected by Ng’s arrest. “I have never heard whether or not Macau is going to have a new conference center. Is it likely that a [U.N.] conference center will be built in Macau just because of some work [someone] supposedly did for the United Nations?” Kuan asked. He then went on to explain that Ng’s son, Ng Kei Nin, is the company’s board chairman, and therefore the SKY group is unaffected by the case and detention, especially since the elder Ng “has not directly participated in the company’s operations for the past few years.”