NY designer gets 3.5 years for scam tied to ex-UN chief's relatives. — File picNY designer gets 3.5 years for scam tied to ex-UN chief’s relatives. — File picNEW YORK, Oct 6 — A New York fashion designer who has called himself the “curator of cool” was sentenced to three and a half years in prison yesterday, after he pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a bribery case that involves a brother and nephew of former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Self-described arts and fashion consultant and blogger Malcolm Harris, 53, was sentenced by US District Judge Edgardo Ramos in federal court in Manhattan, according to Dawn Dearden, a spokeswoman for New York federal prosecutors. He was ordered to pay US$760,000 (RM3.21 million) in restitution.

Harris pleaded guilty to money laundering and wire fraud in June. US prosecutors had accused Harris in January of agreeing to act as a middleman in an international bribery scheme centred on a potential US$800 million international real estate deal, and then running off with his co-conspirators’ money.

Prosecutors said those co-conspirators were Ban Ki-moon’s brother Ban Ki-sang, who was an executive at South Korean construction firm Keangnam Enterprises Ltd, and Ban Ki-sang’s son Joo Hyun “Dennis” Bahn, a real estate broker.

Bahn was also arrested by US authorities and pleaded not guilty to criminal charges, while Ban Ki-sang was charged but remains at large.

According to an indictment, Ban Ki-sang arranged for Keangnam to hire his son to broker a refinancing on the Landmark 72 building complex in Hanoi to help the company deal with a liquidity crisis.

In March 2013, Bahn, through an acquaintance, met Harris, according to the indictment.

Harris told Bahn that he could help get a deal through his connections, offering to bribe an unnamed official to secure Landmark 72’s sale to a sovereign wealth fund, according to the indictment.

In April 2014, Bahn and Ban Ki-sang agreed to pay an upfront US$500,000 bribe and another US$2 million upon the sale’s closing to the official, with Harris acting as middleman, prosecutors said.

They said Harris had no actual connection to the official and kept the US$500,000 for himself. He spent the money on airfare, hotels, lavish meals, furniture and apartments in Manhattan and Brooklyn, according to the indictment.

Ban Ki-moon was long expected to make a bid for the presidency of South Korea, but announced in February that he would not run, citing “fake news” about him and his family. — Reuters



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