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October 09, 2015

U.N. to Audit Deals With Foundations Tied to Bribery Inquiry

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has ordered an audit of the organization's interactions with two nonprofits linked to a U.S. corruption investigation that led to the arrest this week of a former General Assembly president, Reuters and The New York Times report. The U.N.'s Office of Internal Oversight Services will examine funds the international body received from the Global Sustainability Foundation and the charitable arm of the Sun Kian Ip Group, a Macau-based conglomerate.

Antiguan diplomat John W. Ashe, who led the General Assembly in 2013-14, was arrested Tuesday with five other people in a case federal prosecutors allege involves more than $1.3 million in bribes from Chinese businessmen, including real-estate billionaire Ng Lap Seng. Mr. Ng, who was arrested last month, heads the Sun Kian Ip Group, whose foundation gave $1.5 million earlier this year to the U.N. Office for South-South Cooperation.

The Global Sustainability Foundation has co-sponsored a gala for another U.N. agency, the International Telecommunications Union. It shares officers with the Sun Kian Ip charity, and the staff of both groups include former U.N. personnel and diplomats. Neither is registered as a nonprofit in the United States. Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for Mr. Ban, said the inquiry should not "impact our ability to work with the private sector or foundations."