Feds Indict Air China Station Chief on Smuggling Charges

     NEW YORK (CN) — A federal grand jury in Brooklyn on Wednesday indicted the Newark station manager for Air China on charges of smuggling packages for Chinese military officers from the republic’s permanent mission to the United Nations, in a case reportedly linked to another diplomatic scandal playing out across the river.
     Ying Lin, a 46-year-old Queens resident, was originally charged in the Eastern District of New York in August 2015, weeks before federal prosecutors in Manhattan unveiled a sprawling bribery case connecting a Chinese billionaire to prominent diplomats.
     Since that time, Reuters has reported links between the two cases.
     While court records shield the name of Lin’s employer, the news wire uncovered that she worked as the Newark station manager for Air China and that she came under the radar of U.S. authorities during their investigation of Macau billionaire Ng Lap Seng.
     Ng is accused of paying $300,000 to former U.N. General Assembly president John Ashe for help building a multibillion-dollar, U.N.-sponsored conference center in Macau.
     Ashe, who was accused taking $1.3 million, died this summer in a weightlifting accident before his case went to trial.
     Francis Lorenzo, the deputy permanent representative for the U.N. to the Dominican Republic, pleaded guilty in the conspiracy, as have two top executives for the nonprofit Global Sustainability Foundation.
     The indictment against Lin released today does not allege corruption, but rather a scheme to skirt Transportation Security Administration rules to provide duty-free liquor and tax-exempt electronics to Chinese officials. The discounted booze included Hennessey Richard, Paradis, and XO Grand Champagne, and the tech items included MacBooks, iPads, iWatches and iPhones.
     Prosecutors also claim that Lin helped a Chinese national believed to be the target of a federal inquiry escape back home aboard an air carrier flight from JFK Airport.
     U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said in a statement that Lin “repeatedly acted in direct contravention of rules and regulations providing for the safety of flights in the United States in order to reap personal benefits such as free contracting work and tax-free liquor and electronics.”
     Lin is charged with five counts of smuggling, wire fraud, obstruction of justice, and other charges. The government also seeks the forfeiture of more than $200,000.
     

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