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Woman who bribed UN's John Ashe jailed 20 months

The co-founder and former head of the Global Sustainability Foundation was sentenced in Manhattan federal court Friday to 20 months in prison for bribing John Ashe, the 68th President of the UN General Assembly. 

Shiwei Yan -- also known as Sheri Yan -- pleaded guilty in January to paying Ashe more than $800,000 in bribes.

The bribes were intended to help Yan and Chinese businessmen land deals in Antigua.

Yan, 60, is a naturalized United States citizen. She lived mainly in China before her arrest.

Ashe served as the Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations.

He died in June, five days before a hearing in his own bribery case in federal court in New York City.

The DOJ indicted him in October of last year.

Ashe was President of the UN General Assembly from September 2013 to September 2014.

He died after reportedly dropping a barbell on his neck during a gym workout. He was 61.

Yan starting bribing Ashe in 2012.

Ashe shared a portion of the bribe money with other Antiguan officials, the DOJ said.

Yan paid Ashe $400,000 through one payment of $200,000 and two $100,000 payments. She also paid him $20,000 a month for his service as “Honorary Chairman” of the Global Sustainable Development Foundation, later known as the Global Sustainability Foundation or GSF.  

Yan founded GSF purportedly to promote the UN’s sustainable development goals.

She sent Ashe the $200,000 payment in exchange for his attending a private conference in China hosted by a Chinese real estate developer.

Yan also arranged for Ashe to receive tens of thousands of dollars in custom suits and clothes, the DOJ said.

In imposing sentence Friday, Judge Vernon Broderick said: “To those bent on perverting decision-making through bribery, this simply will not be tolerated…there are consequences to these actions.”

Judge Broderick also ordered Yan to forfeit $300,000.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He'll be the keynote speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016.