A 62-year-old woman, dubbed the ‘‘queen of the Australian-China social scene’’ walked out of a US federal prison earlier this year after spending three years behind bars having been accused of bribing the former president of the United Nations General Assembly, John Ashe.
This is yet another example of global Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence, something which Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi says is further evidence of the need for a royal commission into CCP influence in Australia.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports, Sheri Yan (pictured) was once known for hosting soirees around the world where diplomats mingled with millionaire business executives and socialites.
Yan’s journey from one of China’s smallest provinces to the UN’s New York headquarters is itself extraordinary. The FBI’s case has opened another window into her story – a sprawling saga of ambition, greed and power.
The most intriguing chapter of this tale remains shrouded in mystery, with clues emerging across three continents – in court documents, phone tap warrants, and a spy agency raid. The clues, like a trail of breadcrumbs, all lead back to the same source. The Chinese Communist Party.
According to 10 serving and former Australian and US national security officials, the Chinese government was conducting a clandestine foreign interference operation targeting the most prominent symbol of the global rules-based order: the UN. This bold operation used UN-approved non-government organisations (NGOs) with apparently charitable intentions as fronts for channelling illicit payments to UN diplomats – via a network of middlemen, millionaires and suspected spies. Yan was a key player, say some of these sources.
In September, US prosecutors alluded to Yan’s secret involvement in a second high profile bribery case. This case involved claims that Hong Kong’s former Home Affairs minister, Patrick Ho, had bribed another UN general assembly president, Sam Kutesa.
Kutesa’s wife once worked for Yan and phone taps suggest Yan and Ho were working together to exert corrupt influence inside the UN.
Yan and Ho share other similarities. Yan has faced explosive accusations that she is an agent of Chinese government influence, having been raided by ASIO. Ho’s alleged connections to Beijing’s security apparatus involve a black market arms smuggling racket. The Chinese Communist Party hovers in the background of both Yan and Ho’s stories.
When asked about Yan, Australian Attorney-General Christian Porter didn’t call out Beijing directly, but confirmed the UN had been targeted. ‘‘Ensuring political processes are conducted without improper influence is paramount for all political processes, from local council elections through to the running of the UN,’’ he said. ‘‘Examples demonstrate that this is a real problem.’’ Yan’s story shows why.
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