Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dominican and Antiguan to provide testimony at Lap Seng trial

Dominican-born and former Antigua Attorney General Justin Simon and prominent Antiguan Attorney Dr. David Dorsett will form part of the federal trial of Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng which is about to commence in New York next week. Both attorneys have submitted affidavits for and against Mr. Ng and in support of the respective attorneys.

In a 46-page affidavit filed in Manhattan Federal Court on May 16th on behalf of the US government, Mr. Simon lays out in detail his interpretation of Antiguan anti-bribery statutes. In a letter submitted with the affidavit to presiding Judge Vernon Broderick, Acting US Attorney Joon Kim states that Mr. Simon's affidavit "addresses the elements for violations..under the Prevention of Corruption Act as well as a violation of..the Integrity in Public Life Act".

Mr. Kim went on to state in his letter "First, as explained in Mr. Simon's affidavit, it is not a defense to a violation of the Prevention of Corruption Act or the Integrity in Public Life Act that the public official would have engaged in the same conduct regardless of whether he was offered or given benefit. In other words, there is no requirement under Antiguan law that the individual sought to have the public official do something contrary to what the official would otherwise have done in good faith or for the good of Antigua, absent the benefit or advantage. No such requirement is expressed in the statues, nor has any such requirement been so defined by a court or other authority in Antigua".
Justin Simon Affidavit (with supporting exhibits)
You will recall that a central figure in the Lap Seng case was former Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador John Ashe, who lost his life in an unfortunate accident a year ago. Mr. Ashe had been indicted in the massive bribery scheme for which he was allegedly paid by Mr. Ng to use his status as a former President of the General Assembly to influence the United Nations into approving the construction of a large Conference Center in Macau. Mr. Ng's company, Sun Kian LP, would have been the developer of this multi-billion dollar facility.

Countering Mr. Simon's affidavit for the feds, attorney Dr. David Dorsett has provided an affidavit for the defense team of Mr. Ng. In his affidavit filed yesterday May 24th by Alexandra Shapiro, lead attorney for Ng Lap Seng, Mr. Dorsett presented his interpretation of the same Antigua laws as it pertains to the case. Ms. Shapiro points out in her letter to the court that Mr. Simon, the government's expert foreign attorney, does not dispute two of four points as raised by Mr. Ng in a previous letter to the court on May 12th. "In particular, Mr. Simon does not dispute that the Antiguan laws referenced..only apply when there's alleged bribery of an Antiguan public official, which does not include elected heads of international organizations or their constituent bodies or committees, such as the President of the General Assembly or the President of the High-Level Committee on South-South Cooperation, or members of political parties in Antigua... Nor does Mr. Simon dispute that for there to be a violation of any of the..laws, it is critical that the benefit at issue have been exchanged for an act or omission in the public official's capacity as a public official of Antigua, and not in any other capacity".

Dr. David Dorsett's Affidavit
Ms. Shapiro went on to say in her letter "Mr. Simon disputes two points of Antiguan law without providing any legal reasoning or citation of legal authority. Mr. Dorsett explains why Mr. Simon's affidavit misinterprets and mischaracterizes Antiguan law, and Mr. Dorsett provides reasoning, case law and treatises in support. In particular, Mr. Dorsett explains that there is no violation of the Antiguan bribery laws if the public official would have engaged in the same conduct whether or not he received the supposed benefit. Mr. Dorsett also explains the intent required under Antiguan criminal law: that (a) it was the defendant's purpose to cause the particular result, or (b) the result was 'a virtually certain consequence of his act' and the defendant knew that to be so".

Both attorney's are expected to be called to the witness stand at some point during the trial. It looks like we may have a battle between two highly successful Caribbean lawyers in Manhattan Federal Court. Who will the jury believe? This is, after all, a major case with global ramifications. Two of our sons are about to play a critical role in its determination.

Lap Seng photo courtesy South China Morning Post (

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