The FBI has arrested a politically prominent Chinese millionaire, the alleged secret source of foreign money in a campaign finance scandal during the Clinton administration, on charges he lied about why he brought more than $4.5 million in cash into the United States over the last two years.
Ng Lap Seng was arrested in New York last weekend by FBI agents working with federal prosecutors assigned to the public corruption squad in the Southern District of New York, according to federal authorities.
His arrest came on the same day the Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Seattle for a state visit to the United States.
In addition to his role as a prominent real estate developer on the gambling center island of Macau, Ng has close ties to the Chinese government and is listed as a member of a senior advisory group, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
A criminal complaint against Ng, filed in federal court, described a series of trips Ng made to the U.S., often by private jet, carrying large amounts of cash.
According to the complaint, Ng lied about the purpose for bringing the cash, falsely claiming it was for the purchase of real estate, art or for gambling.
FBI agents surveilled Ng on several of his most recent trips and found that “at no point” was he seen “looking at paintings available for purchase, purchasing paintings, or gambling,” according to the complaint.
The complaint does not offer details about who the government believes received the cash, other than identifying a "Business Associate-1". There is no indication of any current ties to the Clintons or the Democratic Party, and a spokesman for the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign, Brian Fallon, said there had been no contact between the campaign and Ng.
The complaint says Ng brought a suitcase full of $400,000 in cash to the United States on June 13 and later that day brought the suitcase to a meeting with “Business Associate-1” in Queens, New York.
Ng was identified in a 1998 Senate report as the source of hundreds of thousands of dollars illegally funneled through an Arkansas restaurant owner, Charlie Trie, to the Democratic National Committee during the Clinton administration.
“Trie’s contributions purchased access for himself and Ng to the highest levels of our government,” the Senate report said.
Ng and Trie made a number of visits to the White House to attend Democratic National Committee-sponsored events and were photographed with President Bill Clinton and then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. ABC News reported in 1997 that Ng had made six trips to the White House.
Senate investigators said Ng “refused to meet with or answer the investigators questions,” although he was never charged with a crime in the investigation.
Trie, an American citizen, pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws.
Also arrested with Ng was an associate and translator, Jeff Yin, a naturalized American citizen who is also accused of lying about the use and importation of the funds. Both are being held at a federal corrections center and are scheduled to be in court on Oct. 5.
Ng's lawyer, Kevin Tung, said Ng is being held without bail, and Tung said he could not comment as to where the money had allegedly gone.
In an interview with ABC News in July, 1997, Ng said, “My philosophy is that I should not break the law but I wouldn’t mind bending it.”