Asia Pacific / Crime & Legal

U.S. asks South Korea to arrest brother of former U.N. chief Ban

Reuters

The U.S. government has asked South Korea to arrest a brother of former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on charges that he engaged in a bribery scheme to carry out the sale of a Vietnamese building complex, a U.S. prosecutor said on Friday.

During a court hearing in federal court in Manhattan, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Noble said that a request had been made for the arrest of Ban Ki-sang, who was an executive at the construction firm Keangnam Enterprises.

Noble said the United States plans to seek his extradition “but as of yet, he has not been apprehended.”

South Korea’s Justice Ministry is discussing with the U.S. government on the request to arrest Ban but “it is not yet a formal consultation,” Yonhap news agency quoted an unnamed source in the judiciary as saying.

An official at the foreign affairs section of the national police said the agency has yet to receive a formal request to arrest Ban.

An official at Keangnam said Ban Ki-sang had left the company in March 2015 and it was not aware of his whereabouts.

Ban Ki-sang was one of four people charged on Jan. 10 in a case that has complicated his brother’s expected run for president of South Korea following his recently finished term at the United Nations.

The case has already resulted in the arrest of another of the former U.N. chief’s relatives, Joo Hyun “Dennis” Bahn, a real estate broker living in New Jersey who is Ban Ki-moon’s nephew and Ban Ki-sang’s son.

The former U.N. chief, who is ranked second in opinion polls among potential candidates for president, has said he was embarrassed that family members had been named in the case but said he had “absolutely no knowledge.”

Ban has yet to declare his candidacy.

According to an indictment, amid a liquidity crisis at Keangnam, Ban Ki-sang, 69, arranged for it to hire his son to broker a refinancing on the Landmark 72 building complex in Hanoi, which cost over $1 billion to construct.

The indictment said that in March 2013, Bahn through an acquaintance met Malcolm Harris, a self-described arts and fashion consultant and blogger who has also been charged in the case.

Prosecutors said Harris told Bahn he could help get a deal via his connections, which he said included members of a Middle Eastern royal family, and offered to arrange the Landmark 72’s sale to a sovereign wealth fund by bribing an official.

In April 2014, Bahn and Ban Ki-sang agreed to pay a $500,000 bribe and another $2 million upon the sale’s closing to the official, prosecutors said.

But prosecutors said Harris did not have any connection to the official, and after the men sent $500,000 to his company, Muse Creative Consulting, to pay bribes as a middle man, he stole the funds.

He spent the money on airfare, hotels, lavish meals, furniture, rent for a Manhattan apartment and a six-month lease for a penthouse in the fashionable Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, the indictment said.

Both Bahn, 38, and Harris, 52, have pleaded not guilty.

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