Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, her US-based son Sajeeb Wazed Joy and the office of Bangladesh’s permanent representative to the United Nations were associated in 2016 with a Chinese scamster couple who are now serving prison terms in America, a meticulous investigative report by the reputed Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) says.
Founded in 2006, the OCCRP is a global network of investigative journalists with staff on six continents. The OCCRP story was published on the organisation’s website on October 3.
The full report may be accessed at https://rb.gy/9iq3x.
According to the detailed report, the Chinese duo are Cary Yan and Gina Zhou. “Yan and Zhou were arrested in Thailand on a US warrant. After being extradited to face trial in New York, they pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy” and were sentenced earlier this year. While “Zhou was deported to the Marshall Islands shortly after sentencing, Yan is due for release this November”.
Zhou and Yan were at the apex a criminal organisation that also had suspected links with the Chinese Ministry of State Security and its intelligence agencies. The two gained access to the UN in 2015. “Yan was even able to get photos taken of himself alongside Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. Secretary General at the time, in return for payment. This effort was only the first of a series of photo-ops with U.N. grandees that Yan arranged with the help of paid fixers in an effort to raise his stature,” the OCCRP story says.
Yan and Zhou engaged Francis Lorenzo, “an ambassador from the Dominican Republic to the UN” in mid-2015, the OCCRP report says, adding that this and other information were accessed by their reporters from emails and interviews “with people familiar with the arrangement”. The two Chinese individuals “quickly came to rely on the Dominican’s network to achieve ever greater levels of UN access”.
Yan, acting in tandem with Lorenzo, took over a US-based NGO, World of Hope International and renamed it to World Organization of Governance and Competitiveness (WOGC), “complete with a logo that evoked the UN brand”.
The OCCRP report says that “A procession of politicians, staffers, and U.N. diplomats from countries all over the world, including Mauritania, Maldives, El Salvador, and Bangladesh, came by the office”.
It goes on to reveal that “The ECOSOC accreditation obtained by Yan and Zhou’s organization allowed it to organize a succession of U.N. events, starting with a glitzy launch in September 2016 during the meeting of the 71st Session of the General Assembly. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was the keynote speaker, and actor-cum-crooner Robert Davi was the main entertainment. (Bangladesh’s U.N. mission and Davi did not respond to questions.)”.
A photograph embedded in the OCCRP report shows Yan alongside Sheikh Hasina, Sajeeb Wazed Joy “at the September 2016 launch of the World Organization of Governance and Competitiveness”. Sheikh Hasina is featured in a video which was taken during the launch and in which she also made a brief speech, followed by an address in Chinese by Yan.
The video may be accessed here https://shorturl.at/ptCW3.
Following the publication of the OCCRP stories, Northeast News undertook its own enquiries in Bangladesh and elsewhere. This revealed that Yan and Zhou could bring on board Sheikh Hasina and Sajeeb Wazed Joy, reportedly with facilitation provided by the office of Bangladesh the then permanent representative to the UN Masud Bin Momen who subsequently was appointed as the country’s foreign secretary on December 31, 2019.
Masud Bin Momen’s predecessor was A K Abdul Momen who is now Bangladesh’s foreign minister. Abdul Momen served as Bangladesh’s permanent representative to the UN from August 2009 to November 2015.