The former Hong Kong home secretary indicted for allegedly bribing Africa officials on behalf of a Chinese energy company pleaded not guilty Monday.
Patrick Ho, 68, was charged in November with conspiring to violate the FCPA, violating the FCPA, conspiring to commit international money laundering, and committing international money laundering.
He’s been in federal custody since his arrest on November 18.
Ho was first denied bail in federal court in New York on December 1. The DOJ said he was a flight risk.
He faces up to five years in prison on each FCPA-related count, and up to 20 years in prison for each money laundering count.
On Friday, Ho’s lawyers asked Judge Katherine Forrest to release him on bond of $10 million and under house arrest with electronic monitoring. She denied the request and didn’t reconsider it at Monday’s plea hearing.
According to the indictment, Ho, with help from his co-defendant Cheikh Gadio, offered $2 million in bribes to the President of Chad.
Gadio, 61, is the former foreign minister of Senegal.
Ho also allegedly paid a $500,000 bribe to the minister of foreign affairs of Uganda.
The DOJ alleged that an 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.
* * *
Meanwhile, the press in China has accused the United States of using the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to achieve political ends.
A commentary in the Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po (described by the independent South China Morning Post as a “Beijing mouthpiece”) said that the arrests “give rise to the question: was the U.S. action genuinely intended to safeguard fairness and justice or merely a move to head off a perceived threat to its hegemony?”
A report from Beijing’s Global Times quoted a CEFC Energy official that there are “deep international political motives” behind the case.
The SCMP said Ho’s arrest came a day after CEFC Energy and the Russian state oil company Rosneft concluded an oil supply agreement.
“Ho’s defenders are seeking to explain the arrest as an American reaction to warming Sino-Russian trade ties,” the paper said.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.