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Ex-UN chief Ban Ki-moon apologizes after brother's bribery indictment

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon (C) waves as he arrives at the Incheon International Airport west of Seoul on Jan. 12, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon has issued an apology after the US government called on South Korea to arrest his brother on charges of a bribery scheme to sell a Vietnamese building complex.

"I have absolutely no knowledge of this case," Ban underlined in a statement on Saturday, expressing optimism that authorities would be able to clear up the suspicion among the South Korean public.

The recent UN chief, who is reportedly seeking the top candidate in the race to become South Korea’s next president, further hoped that any cooperation between officials in Seoul and Washington would be "strict and transparent."

Ban’s brother, Ban Ki-sang, was one of four individuals charged on January 10 in a case that has complicated the presidential run of the ex-chief of the world body following his recently-finished term at the United Nations.

During a court hearing in federal court in Manhattan, Assistant US Attorney Daniel Noble declared that a request had been made for the arrest of Ban Ki-sang, who served as an executive at South Korean construction firm Keangnam Enterprises.

Noble further stated that the United States plans to seek his extradition, "but as of yet, he has not been apprehended."

The legal case, however, has already led to the arrest of another of Ban’s relatives, Joo Hyun "Dennis" Bahn, a real estate broker residing in the state of New Jersey, who is Ban Ki-sang's son.

According to an indictment, Ban Ki-sang arranged for Keangnam to hire his son to broker a refinancing on a building complex in Vietnamese capital of Hanoi -- called Landmark 72 -- which cost $1.3 billion to construct.

The indictment further stated that in March 2013, Bahn met through an acquaintance a self-described arts consultant named Malcolm Harris, who has also been charged in the case.

Prosecutors said Harris told Bahn he could help get a deal through his connections, which he said included members of a Middle Eastern royal family, and offered to arrange the sale of the building complex to a sovereign wealth fund by bribing an official.

The prosecutors further added that in April 2014, Bahn and Ban Ki-sang agreed to pay an upfront $660,000 bribe to the official and another $2.6 million upon the sale's closing.

However, the prosecutors said Harris did not have any connection to the official, and he stole the funds after the men sent $660,000 to his company — Muse Creative Consulting LLC — as bribe money.

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