• Joo Hyun Bahn, nephew of former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, leaves Manhattan Federal Court in New York, Jan. 10, 2017. (Photo by AP)

Two close relatives of former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have been charged in a bribery case in the United States that could potentially damage Ban's bid for South Korea’s presidency.

According to Press TV, Ban’s younger brother, Ban Ki-sang who is a senior executive at a South Korean construction firm and his son Joo Hyun Bahn, a New York real estate broker, were charged in Manhattan Federal Court on Tuesday for bribing a Middle Eastern man to buy a skyscraper in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The two were trying to close a deal for the sale of the $800 million tower ‘Landmark 72’ to an unnamed country through the broker.

However, the deal backfired when a US businessman, Malcolm Harris, took half a million dollars in bribes and lied about the ties he had to a powerful official who was supposed to arrange the purchase of the building.

According to reports, the firm whose executive was Ban Ki-sang sought to sell the building due to growing debt in early 2013.

The Manhattan Court charged the father and son with money laundering, conspiracy and bribing foreign officials to get or keep a business. Harris is also facing charges of attempted bribery, fraud and identity theft charges.

The case comes as South Korea is embroiled in yet another scandal involving President Park Geun-hye. Park is accused of betraying the nation’s trust by collaborating with a close friend who allegedly abused her position and extorted money from big firms.

Last month, Park was impeached by the parliament. If South Korea’s Constitutional Court upholds the impeachment, Park would become the country's first democratically elected leader to leave office in disgrace.

Ban Ki-moon who served as the UN chief from 2007 until 2016, is expected to launch a bid to run for the South Korean presidency following Park’s impeachment.

Reacting to the news, the former UN chief has said that he was unaware of the circumstances surrounding the bribery case involving his family members.


Jan 11, 2017 09:35 UTC