UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "shocked and deeply troubled" by the allegations. A US Federal Attorney said Ashe sold himself and the global institution he led in return for Rolex watches, a basketball court and bespoke suits; that he and others, united by greed, converted the UN into a platform for profit.
Prosecutors say Ashe used his position as permanent resident to the United Nations for Antigua and Barbuda and General Assembly head to introduce a UN document supporting a multibillion-dollar UN-sponsored conference centre that a Mr Ng hoped to build as his legacy in Macau, where he lived.
The conference centre was supposed to function as a satellite operation for the world body. The scheme unfolded between 2011 and 2014, including Ashe's tenure as General Assembly head, Prosecutors said Ashe set up meetings with government officials in Antigua and Kenya to help the real estate developers land big development contracts. He is also said to have evaded tax on the bribe money he received and allowed the businesspeople pay for him and his family to stay at an $850-a-night hotel in New Orleans.
Ashe was arrested on Tuesday. Five others including Ng are also being held. They include another diplomat, Francis Lorenzo from the Dominican Republic, and two naturalised US citizens who live in China who allegedly helped facilitate the scheme. They have been charged with offences including bribery of a UN official and conspiracy to launder money.
The investigation is continuing and more arrests are likely.