A Queens woman whose murky links to a $10 million Long Island mansion, a United Nations bribery scandal and an alleged Chinese military smuggling operation have made her an object of intrigue pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court to conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges.
Ying Lin, 46, of Flushing, a former station manager for Air China who was originally charged with illegally structuring financial transactions last year before facing new charges last week, also agreed to an increase in her bail bond from $250,000 to $500,000, but her lawyer said she had done nothing wrong.
“The charges against her are baseless,” said defense attorney Deborah Colson. “She looks forward to fighting this and having her day in court.”
Lin, a U.S. citizen with two daughters who has been in the country for 23 years, is accused of using her position at Air China to help Chinese military representatives at the UN and other Chinese agents transport unchecked baggage to China on multiple occasions in return for diplomatic duty-free perks.
But the charges that have drawn more attention accuse her of also warning an unnamed Chinese “confederate” whose mansion in Old Brookville she allegedly renovated and managed that he was the target of a federal probe and arranging for him to flee to Beijing on Air China last October.
Those allegations appear to relate to the arrest late last year of Ng Lap Seng, a real estate billionaire from the Chinese territory of Macau taken into custody last September on a visit to the U.S. and charged in Manhattan federal court with lying about $4.5 million in cash he brought into the country since 2013.
Ng, later charged with scheming to bribe U.N. diplomats to support a Macau conference center, had allegedly just before his arrest been driven by an airline employee to visit a Long Island house owned by a “business associate” who was “an extraordinarily wealthy connected Chinese businessman.”
A transcript of Ng’s FBI interrogation, filed by his lawyers, indicates that he was questioned among other subjects about possible intelligence-related activities of a man named Qin Fei, identified as the owner of the mansion and referred to by agents as “Big Brother.”
Ng described the man as a “partner,” and said he had helped him buy the mansion on Long Island for $10 million, but knew nothing of intelligence activities. Nassau County property records indicate one ”Fei Qin” bought an Old Brookville house for $10,040,000 in 2014, and “Ying Lin” was named an agent.
Prosecutors in Brooklyn Tuesday told U.S. District Judge Dora Irizarry that the case involving Ying Lin will involve classified materials, but declined afterward to comment on details.
China’s foreign ministry, according to a statement reported last week by Reuters, said of the case, “The relevant accusations and insinuations against Chinese diplomatic personnel based in the United States have ulterior motives.”
In the Manhattan case, Ng Lap Seng has been detained without bail under guard in a private Manhattan apartment since last year. His lawyers claim that the U.N. bribery case is driven by U.S. “geopolitical” interests, because the Macau project could raise China’s profile on the world stage.
Prosecutors have denied that charge.