New York Designer Gets 3-1/2 Years for Role in Foreign Bribery Scheme

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A New York fashion designer, consultant, and blogger has been sentenced to 42 months in prison for his alleged role in a scheme to bribe a foreign official in the Middle East to land a real estate deal.

Malcolm Harris, 53, pleaded guilty to money laundering and wire fraud in June. He was accused of agreeing to act as a middleman in the scheme that centered on a potential $800 million international real estate deal. Harris then allegedly took off with the co-conspirators’ money.

Those co-conspirators were the brother and nephew of former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon–Ban Ki-sang, a former executive at South Korean construction firm Keangnam Enterprises Ltd, and Ban Ki-sang’s son Joo Hyun “Dennis” Bahn, a real estate broker.

According to an indictment, Ban Ki-sang arranged for Keangnam to hire his son to broker a refinancing on the Landmark 72 building complex in Hanoi to help the company deal with a liquidity crisis.

In March 2013, Bahn, through an acquaintance, met Harris, according to the indictment.

Harris told Bahn that he could help get a deal through his connections, offering to bribe an unnamed official to secure Landmark 72’s sale to a sovereign wealth fund, according to the indictment.

In April 2014, Bahn and Ban Ki-sang agreed to pay an upfront $500,000 bribe and another $2 million upon the sale’s closing to the official, with Harris acting as middleman, prosecutors said.

In reality, Harris had no connection with the official and instead used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Read more here: reuters.com


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