Jury selection began Monday in the trial of a Chinese billionaire accused of bribing United Nations diplomats to gain their approval of a U.N. conference center he wanted to build.
Ng Lap Seng has pleaded not guilty. He has posted $50 million bail, but is restricted to a luxury New York City apartment that he owns, where he is under guard around the clock. He is allowed to leave his apartment only to visit his doctors or his lawyers.
Ng, who is 69, is accused of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes for the center he planned to build in Macau.
Prosecutors say some of the money reached former General Assembly president John Ashe and a former diplomat from the Dominican Republic, Francis Lorenzo.
Ashe died last year in a freak accident while lifting weights at his home.
Lorenzo pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors in the case against Ng.
Ng’s lawyers contend the charges are politically motivated, aimed at trying to curb China’s influence over developing countries that might have used the Macau conference center.
If prosecutors and defense lawyers can agree on selection of a jury without delay, the judge in the case estimated the trial would last a month or perhaps longer.