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US charges former Air China worker for smuggling on behalf of Chinese military

Former Air China employee Ying Lin exits the building after a pretrial hearing in federal court in Brooklyn, New York. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION New York, United States Sep 01, 2016, 04.57 AM (IST)
US prosecutors charged a former Air China employee on Wednesday for smuggling packages onto flights from New York to China on behalf of Chinese military personnel stationed at the country's UN mission.

The Chinese national was not named by the prosecutors, but his description matches that of Qin Fei of Beijing, who other court records show the FBI has suspected may be involved with Chinese intelligence.

Ying Lin, 46, was also accused in an indictment filed in federal court in Brooklyn of obstructing justice by helping a Chinese national the Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating to flee the country last year.

Qin's link to Lin was revealed recently following the filing in court of the FBI's 2015 interview of Ng Lap Seng, a Macau billionaire accused of participating in a UN bribery and who was also linked to Lin.

In August 2015, Lin was arrested and charged for structuring financial transactions. She pleaded not guilty.

Lin would smuggle packages for Chinese military officials and other nationals working for China’s UN delegation through John F Kennedy International Airport, where she worked at that time, onto planes headed to China, prosecutors alleged. 

The content of the packages wasn’t revealed in the indictment. In return, Lin received duty-free gifts including Apple electronic devices and expensive liquor in violation of New York tax law, according to prosecutors.

The indictment said Lin helped the individual, called her "Confederate", depart on an Air China flight for Beijing that October 28.

While not named, the indictment said Lin was responsible for renovating and furnishing a Long Island residence the "Confederate" owned. Property records list Lin as an agent for Qin's $10 million Long Island mansion.

In his FBI interview, Ng discussed Qin's mansion. He called Qin a consultant at Ng's company, Sun Kian Ip Group.

Prosecutors have accused Ng of giving John Ashe, who served as UN General Assembly from 2013 to 2014, over $500,000 in bribes to, among other things, support a UN-backed conference center in Macau his company would develop.

Ashe is a former UN ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda. He died in June awaiting trial. Ng has pleaded not guilty.

(WION with inputs from agencies)
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