June 29, 2020 / 2:10 PM / 12 days ago

U.S. Supreme Court rejects Macau billionaire's bribery appeal

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S., June 25, 2020. REUTERS/Al Drago/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up billionaire Macau real estate developer Ng Lap Seng’s appeal of his conviction and four-year prison sentence for bribing two U.N. ambassadors to help him build a multibillion-dollar conference center.

The justices left in place a lower court’s 2019 ruling that federal bribery laws covered the payments made by Ng despite his contention that the statutes excluded money going to people involved in public entities such as the United Nations.

Ng was convicted in 2017 on all six counts he faced, including bribery, money laundering and corruption, after a four-week trial, then lost an appeal to the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Prosecutors accused Ng of paying more than $1 million in bribes to John Ashe, a former U.N. General Assembly president and ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda, and Francis Lorenzo, a former deputy ambassador from the Dominican Republic.

Ng was accused of making the payments in order to win support for his conference center, which he wanted to use it as a springboard for the development of luxury housing, hotels, marinas and a heliport. The center was never built.

Ng is imprisoned in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, and is eligible for release in January 2022, according to federal records.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Will Dunham

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