-- 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.
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 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.
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.”