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Prosecutor says ex-UN General Assembly president sold himself, institution he led

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NEW YORK The latest on allegations that former United Nations General Assembly President Josh Ashe accepted bribes to help a Chinese real estate mogul and other businesspeople gain investments and government contracts (all times local):11:55 a.m.

A federal prosecutor has formally announced bribery conspiracy charges against a former United National General Assembly president, a billionaire Chinese real estate mogul and four others.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in New York said Tuesday that John Ashe sold himself and the global institution he led while he served in the largely ceremonial post for a year in 2013 and 2014. He also was an ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda at the time.

The prosecutor says the charges show that the “cancer of corruption that plagues too many local and state governments infects the United Nations as well.”

It was not immediately clear who will represent Ashe in court.

The billionaire businessman, Ng Lap Seng, and his chief assistant were arrested two weeks ago. Their lawyers didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

9:05 a.m.

U.S. prosecutors say former United Nations General Assembly President John Ashe took more than $500,000 in bribes from a Chinese real estate mogul and other businesspeople.

In exchange for the money, federal prosecutors say, Ashe used his position as Permanent Resident to the United Nations for Antigua and Barbuda and General Assembly head to help the businesspeople gain investments and government contracts from 2011 through 2014.

Prosecutors say some of the bribe money was used to pay for Ashe’s family vacation and to construct a basketball court at his home in Dobbs Ferry, New York.

In all, six people, including another diplomat, were ensnared in the probe.

Ashe was arrested Tuesday and is being held.

No one answered a phone call to the mission for Antigua.

Ashe’s legal representation isn’t clear.

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