Former Diplomat Pleads Guilty in UN Bribery Case

Francis Lorenzo, a U.S. citizen who served as a foreign diplomat from the Dominican Republic pleaded guilty to six charges, including conspiracy, bribery, money laundering, and tax counts, Wednesday in a United Nations bribery case.  Lorenzo agreed to cooperate with the government against co-defendants who include former U.N. General Assembly president John Ashe and Chinese businessmen including billionaire Ng Lap Seng

Lorenzo told U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick that he facilitated the payment of bribes to others and accepted payments himself from Chinese businessmen, including Ng Lap Seng.  He also agreed with a prosecutor who described the allegations against him, including that some of the bribes were paid to gain Ashe’s support for the construction of a U.N.-sponsored conference center that Ng hoped to build in his hometown of Macau. Prosecutors have said Ashe, a former U.N. ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda, received over $1 million in bribes.

Outside court, Lorenzo declined to comment. His lawyer, Brian Bieber, said his client decided to plead guilty after seeing the government’s evidence. “He’s very remorseful for his conduct,” Bieber said.  The plea by Lorenzo came weeks after Broderick ruled that he could not use claims of diplomatic immunity to shield himself from charges, in part because he was a U.S. citizen.

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