Monday, March 28, 2016

Spencer Fingered in UN probe

Heidi Piao (r.) with her lawyer leaving Manhattan Federal Court
Photo South China Morning Post

Two weeks ago we broke the story of the arrest of Julia "Vivi" Wang (New York Prosecutors moving aggressively). Ms. Wang is accused of funneling money to Antiguan officials from China through Trinidad in order to pay for diplomatic positions for her now-diseased husband as well as another Chinese business man. This arrest followed plea deals secured by the Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara from Francis Lorenzo and Heidi Hong Piao.

With little fanfare, Mr. Bharara and his team of expert prosecutors secured a plea deal from Heidi Hong Piao, aka "Heidi Park" on January 14th. Ms. Piao pleaded guilty to 5 counts relating to the case; Conspiracy to Commit Bribery (1), Bribery (2), Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering (3), Money Laundering (4), and Willful Failure to File Reports of Foreign Band and Financial Records (5). She is scheduled to be sentenced on April 25th.

We decided to take a closer look at the charges Ms. Piao pleaded guilty to and we've noticed that in the allegations, she has fingered the then Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer, as a recipient of bribe money. From the details laid out on counts three and four against Ms. Piao, specific references to the then PM is made. 

The more serious count four, Money Laundering, reads as follows:

The United States Attorney further charges:

     From at least in or about Summer 2012, up to and including in or about September 2015, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, HEIDI HONG PIAO, a/k/a "Heidi Park," the defendant, knowingly transported, transmitted, and transferred, and attempted to transport, transmit, and transfer, a monetary instrument and funds from a place in the United States to and through a place outside of the United States and to a place in the United States from and through a place outside of the United States, with the intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity, to wit, the bribery of a UN official and/or the bribery of a foreign official, to wit, PIAO transported and transmitted and facilitated the transportation and transmission of payments from China to the United States to effect the bribery of, among others, (i) an individual serving as the Permanent Representative to the UN for Antigua and as President of the UN General Assembly, and (ii) the then-Prime Minister and other officials of the Government of Antigua.

Count 4 from the plea deal

Mr. Spencer has repeatedly denied having received any bribes from his former UN Ambassador John Ashe, who is at the core of this conspiracy ring uncovered by the FBI and the Manhattan US Attorney. He has stated in the past that Ashe was asked to solicit donations from friendly persons for the benefit of the United Progressive Party. The indictment and plea deal however, does not make reference to the UPP, but rather Antiguan government officials. As to whether, insofar as this case is concerned, the two are mutually exclusive is something for the Antiguan people to decide.

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  1. Tell the truth Spencer; if you smart call names, we know you not educated enough to do this alone. Lovell them done throw you under the bus, we know this wasn't your idea, you was only the puppet to them. FBI needs to investigate a little deeper when Lovell was finance minister


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