Remember Ng Lap Seng? The Macau billionaire who has been charged with bribing a UN diplomat is now being linked to another businessman believed to be operating as an intelligence agent for China.
Ng is currently standing trial in New York on allegations that he bribed the now-deceased former General Assembly president, John Ashe, in bribes to advance his interest in the UN. The Chinese billionaire has been pushing for the sponsorship of a UN conference center in Macau, which would have served as his legacy.
Last September, when Ng was confined to his New York apartment following his arrest, he was interviewed by FBI agents who sought to clarify his relationship with a suspected Chinese agent, a man named Qin Fei.
Qin was traveling with Ng when the latter was arrested, but was able to return to China, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Ng told investigators that Qin was a consultant at his company Sun Kian Ip Group, who partners him in some of his business ventures, including the negotiations with the UN. But prosecutors suspected that the links between the two go deeper, claiming that Qin acted as Ng’s “handler” who frequently traveled with the casino magnate in his trips to the United States.
People familiar with the matter described Qin as a “shadowy figure.”
“People who live near a Long Island mansion, which public records indicate he bought almost two years ago, say they have never seen him [there], with one person saying [Qin] hasn’t even removed the cover from the fountain in his front yard,” the report read.
Even in China, there’s not much information available on Qin aside from corporate records that listed the man as the partial owner and legal representative of a Beijing company, which was set up in 2000.
Ng and his assistant Jeff Yin were arrested last year on charges of falsifying statements about the purpose of more than $4.5 million cash brought into the U.S. from China. Initially, Ng said the money was to be used for gambling, real estate, and for purchasing art and antiques, but Yin admitted that the money was used to pay people “to engage in unlawful activities.”
The billionaire, who made his fortune in the real estate business, was also tied to a $1.5 million donation to the UN Office for South-South Cooperation, and for giving Ashe more than $500,000 in exchange for—among other things—a conference center that Ng’s company would develop.
Ashe entered plea negotiations with prosecutors several weeks before he died due to physical injuries from a weightlifting accident.
Ng, who remains under house arrest in New York, pleaded not guilty to bribery charges. He is scheduled for trial in January.