Hong Kong ex-official Patrick Ho convicted in US over bribery scheme

NEW YORK - Hong Kong's former home affairs secretary Patrick Ho Chi Ping was convicted by a New York court on Wednesday (Dec 5) over a multi-million-dollar bribery scheme in Africa on behalf of a top Chinese energy company.

Ho, 69, was convicted by a jury of seven out of eight charges of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and money laundering for bribes allegedly directed to top officials in Uganda and Chad to support projects of CEFC China Energy, the Shanghai-based rising star of China's energy industry.

Some of the deals were arranged in the halls of the United Nations, leading to the United States arrest in November 2017 of Ho and a co-conspirator, former Senegalese top diplomat Cheikh Gadio.

In the Justice Department complaint, the two men allegedly offered a US$2 million (S$2.7 million) bribe to the president of Chad "to obtain valuable oil rights" and a US$500,000 bribe to an account designated by the minister of foreign affairs of Uganda, who had recently completed his term as president of the UN General Assembly.

Ho, who led a Hong Kong-based organisation called the China Energy Fund Committee, also known as CEFC and funded by CEFC China Energy, also provided Uganda's president and foreign minister with gifts and promises of future benefits - including a share in the profits of a potential joint venture, the authorities said.

The conviction could lead to a sentence of up to five years in prison for each FCPA violation, and up to 10 years for the money laundering charges.

Ho could also face substantial fines for each charge.

Ho, who was home affairs secretary from 2002 to 2007, pleaded not guilty. He will be sentenced on March 15.

The case against Gadio was dismissed on Sept 14.

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