Ban Ki-moon, the former United Nations chief, said on Wednesday (11 January) that he was "embarrassed" after two of his family members were charged in a bribery case in the US on Tuesday.

"I am perplexed and embarrassed that close members of my family have become involved in something like this. I feel it is regrettable the situation has troubled many," Ban said while addressing reporters at John F. Kennedy International Airport ahead of his departure for South Korea.

"I had absolutely no knowledge. My nephew is grown and I barely had any involvement in his life or how he does business," he added.

An indictment has been filed in a Manhattan federal court against Ban's younger brother, Ban Ki-sang, and nephew, Joo Hyun Bahn. The duo has been accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes to a Middle Eastern official in connection with the attempted sale of a building complex in Vietnam valued at $800m (£657.4m).

Bahn — a real estate broker living in New Jersey — was arrested on Tuesday. However, Bahn's father who is an executive at South Korean construction firm Keangnam Enterprises was not arrested. Ban Ki-sang, 69, reportedly lives in Seoul.

The case emerged few days after the ex-UN head stepped down from the prestigious post and is reportedly gearing up to contest South Korean presidential elections.

Ban, accompanied by his wife Yoo Soon-taek, an aide and a security staff, might officially announce his intention to enter the race to succeed President Park Geun-hye, who was impeached by parliament in December over an influence-peddling scandal.

His Asiana Airlines flight will land at around 0800 GMT local time.

He said that he "felt like bursting" with excitement at the thought of returning to South Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported. The former diplomat of Seoul has earlier said that he is willing to "burn his body" for better politics in his country.

Ban Ki-moon
Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks during the unveiling ceremony of his official portrait at United Nations headquarters in New York Cit REUTERS/Brendan McDermid