Francis Lorenzo accused of facilitating bribes to ex-U.N. General Assembly chief
Lorenzo to plead guilty to bribery, money laundering, other charges, attorney says
Former General Assembly President John Ashe has pleaded not guilty in case
One of the leading figures in a U.N. bribery scandal has decided to plead guilty, according to his attorney.
Francis Lorenzo, a former deputy U.N. ambassador from the Dominican Republic, will plead guilty to six counts Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Manhattan, his attorney, Brian Bieber, told CNN.
Bieber said Lorenzo will plead guilty to bribery, money laundering, conspiracy, failure to file a federal tax return and failure to disclose a foreign bank account.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York confirmed Lorenzo is expected to enter a guilty plea at noon Wednesday.
Lorenzo was accused of facilitating bribes from Chinese businessmen to the former president of the U.N. General Assembly.
The U.S. government had said earlier that the bribery charge alone carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Lorenzo’s attorney said sentencing would be months away.
Lorenzo was arrested in October along with others that included former U.N. General Assembly President John Ashe, who has pleaded not guilty. The Ashe arrest shocked the U.N. system. He was seen as the center of the U.S. government’s case, accused in a wide-ranging bribery scheme. Some other defendants have pleaded guilty, placing more pressure on Ashe.
A U.N. spokesman said Tuesday the case created an opportunity for the United Nations to strengthen the office of the U.N. General Assembly president that some observers had seen as escaping proper oversight.
A U.N. audit in the aftermath of the arrests is ongoing. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Tuesday the results are expected before the end of the month.
At the time of the arrests in October, Lorenzo’s attorney, Bieber, said in a statement that his client trusted the people he surrounded himself with and relied on their integrity in all of his dealings.