Ng Lap Seng, Macau billionaire in UN bribery case, asks judge to free him from luxury apartment once a week

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 October, 2016, 8:30am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 October, 2016, 8:37pm

Macau billionaire Ng Lap Seng, confined to a luxury Manhattan apartment while awaiting trial in a United Nations bribery case, is asking a judge to let him explore New York City a little.

Ng, 68, would like to stroll through a park, visit a museum or go on a shopping trip at least once a week, defense attorney Hugh H. Mo told a judge in a letter late Tuesday.

Ng is under 24-hour guard, awaiting a January trial after pleading not guilty to charges that he and other Chinese businessmen funnelled over US$1 million to pressure diplomats into supporting construction of a U.N. conference centre in Macau.

Ng was arrested in September 2015. A year ago, he was freed on US$50 million bail but was required to wear an electronic bracelet and submit to armed guards to ensure he would not flee.

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“There is no legitimate concern of a flight risk,” his lawyer told US District Judge Vernon S. Broderick. The lawyer noted that Ng is already permitted to leave his residence for court appearances or attorney and doctor visits or to go to his building’s gym or to get a haircut.

“Mr Ng would like to have at least one day a week to be outside of his residence, to walk in a park, to dine at a restaurant, to shop, to visit a museum, city landmarks, library or bookstores, or simply to be outside of his apartment to relieve the stresses of home confinement and the uncertainties of his court proceedings,” he said.

The lawyer said Ng’s yearlong confinement had been unexpected and had caused his client “severe mental and physical hardship.”

“Being confined at home may have its benefits, but it certainly does not eliminate many of the stresses that Mr Ng has to endure on a daily basis, given his prolonged separation from his family and loved ones, inability to manage his extensive business holdings, and the omnipresence of his 24-hour security monitors in his apartment,” he added.

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In July, the judge rejected a request for Ng to be permitted to be outside his residence three times a week during daylight hours. But in the same order, he permitted Ng to use his building’s gym up to three times per week, though he prohibited him from interacting with unapproved individuals and from using a phone or other electronic device.