A federal jury in New York City today convicted the head of China Energy Fund Committee (the “CEFC NGO”) a nongovernmental organization (NGO) based in Hong Kong and Arlington, on seven counts for his participation in a multi-year, multimillion-dollar scheme to bribe top officials of Chad and Uganda in exchange for business advantages for a Chinese oil and gas company, announced Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman of the Southern District of New York.
Chi Ping Patrick Ho, aka “Patrick C.P. Ho,” aka “He Zhiping,” 69, of Hong Kong, China, was found guilty today after a one-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska in the Southern District of New York of one count of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), four counts of violating the FCPA, one count of conspiring to commit international money laundering and one count of committing international money laundering. Ho is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Preska on March 14, 2019.
“Patrick Ho paid millions of dollars in bribes to the leaders of two African countries to secure contracts for a Chinese conglomerate,” said Benczkowski. “Today’s trial conviction demonstrates the Criminal Division’s commitment to prosecuting those who seek to utilize our financial system to secure unfair competition advantages through corruption and bribery.”
“Patrick Ho now stands convicted of scheming to pay millions in bribes to foreign leaders in Chad and Uganda, all as part of his efforts to corruptly secure unfair business advantages for a multibillion-dollar Chinese energy company,” said U.S. Attorney Berman. “As the jury’s verdict makes clear, Ho’s repeated attempts to corrupt foreign leaders were not business as usual, but criminal efforts to undermine the fairness of international markets and erode the public’s faith in its leaders.”
Two bribery schemes
According to evidence presented at trial, Ho was involved in two bribery schemes to pay top officials of Chad and Uganda in exchange for business advantages for CEFC China, a Shanghai-based multibillion-dollar conglomerate that operates internationally in multiple sectors, including oil, gas, and banking. At the center of both schemes was Ho, the head of the CEFC NGO, which held “Special Consultative Status” with the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council. CEFC NGO was funded by CEFC China.
According to the evidence presented at trial, in the first scheme (the “Chad Scheme”), Ho, on behalf of CEFC China, offered a $2 million cash bribe, hidden within gift boxes, to Idriss Déby, the President of Chad, in an effort to obtain valuable oil rights from the Chadian government. In the second scheme (the “Uganda Scheme”), Ho caused a $500,000 bribe to be paid, via wires transmitted through New York, New York, to an account designated by Sam Kutesa, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda, who had recently completed his term as the President of the UN General Assembly. Ho also schemed to pay a $500,000 cash bribe to Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda, and offered to provide both Kutesa and Museveni with additional corrupt benefits by “partnering” with them in future joint ventures in Uganda.
CEFC and the government of Chad had denied any involvement in the alleged scheme.