MANHATTAN (CN) – The nephew of former United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon pleaded guilty Friday to a $500,000 bribery scheme involving Qatar’s investment in a Vietnamese skyscraper.
Joo Hyun “Dennis” Bahn, 39, was arrested early last year in connection to a scheme to close a $800 million deal on a 72-story building in Hanoi.
As alleged in the Dec. 15, 2016, indictment, Bahn drafted a letter that made promised Qatar’s head of state would find “stability and profitability” from the real estate deal while the world leader was in New York City for the 2013 U.N. General Assembly.
Malcolm Harris, a co-conspirator to whom Bahn passed the letter, was given a two-year prison sentence this October for his role in the scheme.
In court today, Bahn told U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos that the bribery scheme was never actualized because Harris pocketed the money meant for a Qatari official.
“I knew that what I was doing, it was wrong,” Bahn told the judge.
The South Korean construction company Keangnam Enterprises Co. had been behind the project, known as Landmark 72.
Bahn’s guilty pleas for violating and conspiring to flout the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act carry a maximum 10-year prison term.
Ban Ki-sang, the brother of Bahn Ki-moon and father to Bahn, remains at large.
Bahn will be sentenced on June 29. His attorney Julia Gatto declined to comment.
The case against the three men was one of several U.N. corruption cases brought by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was known for his wide-ranging anti-bribery crackdowns before he was fired by President Donald Trump.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who started heading his post at the Southern District of New York today, pointed to his predecessor’s case as a sign that “federal law enforcement stands ready to root out commercial bribery wherever it is found.”
Berman was appointed by President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday.