Main photo–Ho, Museveni, Kutesa. The Three Amigos in State House, in Uganda. Second photo: Kutesa and Museveni in New York when the foreign minister landed UN job.
Chi Ping Patrick Ho, the powerful Hong Kong business wheeler-and-dealer who in December was convicted in U.S. federal court on charges that he paid $1 million in bribes to Uganda’s dictator Yoweri Museveni and his foreign minister to secure oil concessions and other lucrative businesses, was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
Ho was also convicted of paying a $2 million bribe to Chad’s president Idriss Déby for major oil concessions. He was convicted in December in New York following a one-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska, who imposed today’s sentence.
Ho wired $500,000 to Uganda’s foreign minister Sam Kutesa using a New York-based bank account in May 2016, which gave the U.S. jurisdiction. Gen. Museveni’s $500,000 cut was delivered wrapped up as “gifts” when Ho and a delegation from CEFC China, a powerful energy and financial conglomerate, attended Museveni’s swearing-in in May, 2016 after the country’s general election which was widely-reported as having been rigged. The CEFC team flew to Uganda on a Gulf Stream jet and Kutesa’s wife Edith Kutesa cleared the visitors bearing the “gifts” through customs, documents at the trial showed.
Ho was convicted of paying the bribes on behalf of multi-billion dollar Shanghai-based CEFC China, which operates internationally in multiple sectors, including oil, gas, and banking. He used a Hong Kong and Arlington, Virginia, based charity called the China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC NGO), as his cover. His purported charity had “special consultative status” with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. CEFC NGO was funded by CEFC China, the powerful conglomerate.
At the UN, Ho was able to curry favor with Uganda’s Kutesa while the foreign minister served as President of the UN General Assembly from 2014 to 2015. CEFC China had also agreed to set up joint venture companies together with the family businesses of Museveni and Kutesa, as part of the bribery scheme. When Kutesa was the President of the General Assembly, he appointed Ye Jianming, the Chairman of CEFC as a “special advisor.” Ye has been detained by the authorities in China since shortly after Ho was arrested in connection to the Museveni-Kutesa bribe scandal.
Kutesa’s own corruption involving the UN predates his contact with Ho. The Ugandan foreign minister, separately, stole nearly $30 million from the UN, in a scheme reported exclusively by The Black Star News. A Washington-based group plans to pursue the matter. In Uganda, corruption by top officials is so brazen that Gen. Museveni, the country’s life-president of 33 years now, openly hands out
brown envelops filled with cash to leaders in public ceremonies and during elections.
“Patrick Ho bribed officials at the highest levels of government in Chad and Uganda in pursuit of lucrative oil deals and other business opportunities, all while using a U.S.-based NGO to conceal his criminal scheme,” Brian A. Benczkowski, assistant attorney general, said today. “This kind of corruption undermines world markets and tilts the playing field against law-abiding companies and individuals. The Department will continue to investigate and prosecute individuals and corporations that engage in foreign bribery. ”
Ho, 69, was convicted of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, money laundering, and conspiracy. Ho, who has been detained since his arrest by FBI agents in November 2017 at Kennedy International Airport, was also fined $400,000. He is a former Hong Kong home affairs minister and a Chinese citizen. After serving his sentence he will be deported from the U.S.
“His actions were brazen, including offering the president of Chad $2 million in cash, hidden in gift boxes,” Geoffrey S. Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said today, of Ho. “Foreign corruption undermines the fairness of international markets, erodes the public’s faith in its leaders, and is deeply unfair to the people and businesses that play by the rules. Today’s sentence recognizes the severe harm caused by Ho’s actions.”
The U.S. investigation was conducted by the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation; the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; and, the Department of Justice, Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance.