The former Hong Kong home secretary indicted in the United States for allegedly bribing Africa officials on behalf of a Chinese energy company joined an anti-corruption NGO in Hong Kong last year.
Chi Ping Patrick Ho (aka Patrick Ho), 68, heads an NGO called the Public Officials Concern Group Ltd.
It was set up in August 2016 to hold local officials accountable, as reported by the Hong Kong Free Press and other sources.
The DOJ charged Ho last week with conspiring to violate the FCPA, violating the FCPA, conspiring to commit international money laundering, and committing international money laundering.
The DOJ alleged that Ho, with help from his co-defendant Cheikh Gadio of Senegal, offered $2 million in bribes to the President of Chad.
Ho also allegedly paid a $500,000 bribe to the minister of foreign affairs of Uganda.
The DOJ alleged that another NGO Ho leads — called the China Energy Fund Committee or CEFC — was used to funnel bribes to the officials in Uganda and Chad. CEFC is fully funded by a Shanghai-based oil and gas company called CEFC China Energy Company Limited.
CEFC (the NGO) has reportedly been in the red since its inception in 2011, with net losses totaling about HK$72 million (about $9.2 million).
Ho is well known in Hong Kong. He served as Hong Kong’s Secretary for Home Affairs from 2002 to 2007. His wife is a Taiwanese actress and singer named Sibelle Hu (Hu Huizhong).
According to local press coverage, Ho is the honorary chairman of the Public Officials Concern Group Ltd. The NGO was organized to monitor the conduct of local officials in Hong Kong.
When that NGO was launched last year, Ho reportedly said integrity is the most important core value of the Chinese people and citizens should be able to hold corrupt officials accountable.
CEFC China Energy has denied being involved in Ho’s alleged bribery and said it doesn’t have any investment activities in Uganda or joint interests with the government in Chad.
Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) hasn’t commented yet on the case.
Hong Kong has no legislation in place to address bribery of foreign public officials taking place outside its jurisdiction.
Dale Ko is an independent anti-corruption consultant based in Hong Kong. He formerly served for about twenty years in the Operations Department of the Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), including as Principal Investigator. He can be contacted here.