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Guilty plea in U.N. bribery case

Shiwei Yan could face seven years' imprisonment when she is sentenced in April.
By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   Jan. 21, 2016 at 10:24 AM
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NEW YORK, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- An executive of a poverty-fighting foundation pleaded guilty in New York to charges she aided in bribes given to a United Nations official.

Shiwei Yan admitted to facilitating $800,000 is payments from Chinese executives to former U.N. General Secretary president, and former president of Antigua, John Ashe. The money went to funding a lifestyle for Ashe that included $59,000 in tailored clothing, $54,000 of luxury Rolex watches, payments on BMW cars and a $30,000 indoor basketball court for his home in Antigua.

Yan was CEO of the Global Sustainability Foundation, an organization not mentioned in the case, which is part of a broad U.S. investigation of United Nations corruption. Evidence indicates Ashe "supported these businessmen's interests within the United Nations and with senior Antiguan government officials," including Antigua's prime minister.

Another defendant and Global Sustainability Foundation executive, Heidi Hong Piao, pleaded guilty to charges of bribery and money laundering last week. The complaint by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern district of New York, stated Yan and Piao arranged, for example, a $200,000 payment to Ashe for attending a business conference in China.

Yan and Piao are each Chinese-born U.S. citizens. Ashe has not been charged in the investigation but faces two counts of filing false federal tax returns.

Yan is scheduled to be sentenced April 29; her plea agreement calls for a prison sentence of six to seven years.

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