NEW YORK, (Reuters) – John Ashe, a former United Nations General Assembly president accused by U.S. prosecutors of taking $1.3 million in bribes from Chinese businessmen, has died at age 61, his lawyer said yesterday.
The death of Ashe, a former U.N. ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda who served as General Assembly president from 2013 to 2014 and was arrested in October on federal charges, was confirmed by his lawyer, Jeremy Schneider.
Asked if his client had died from a heart attack as reported by an Antiguan media outlet, Schneider said that was his understanding. But he later clarified that he did not know the cause of death.
Ashe’s death marked a surprising turn in the corruption investigation, in which seven people have been charged to date. He had been in plea talks as recently as last month as prosecutors mulled further charges.
The status of those plea talks was not immediately clear. Schneider said his client had been preparing for trial.
A spokesman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office was pursuing the case, had no immediate comment.