United States arrests two Chinese oil company reps in Africa bribery scheme

Patrick Ho former Hong Kong home secretary deputy chairman of an non-governmental organization funded by CEFC China Energy poses during an interview in Hong Kong. The Chinese energy company denies it had anything to do with

Chad's government on Tuesday denied allegations by U.S. investigators that its president received a US$2 million bribe from former Hong Kong home affairs minister Patrick Ho Chi-ping so that a Chinese energy firm could obtain oil rights in the central African country.

"In an worldwide corruption scheme that spanned the globe, Chi Ping Patrick Ho and Cheikh Gadio allegedly conspired to bribe African government officials on behalf of a Chinese energy conglomerate", acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon H. Kim said in the statement. The charges, of violating money laundering legislation and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, could result in jail sentences of up to 20 years.

Under that legislation, it is illegal to bribe foreign officials to gain a business advantage.

Ho is a former Hong Kong Secretary for Home Affairs and the head of China Energy Fund Committee, a think-tank specializing in energy and culture. He Zhiping is the mainland Chinese way of transliterating Ho's name.

Sweeney Jr., head of New York's Federal Bureau of Investigation office, said Ho and Gadio wanted to "get their hands on the rights to lucrative opportunities in Africa".

A security guard stands at the entrance to an unmarked building compound listed as an address for CEFC China Energy Co. in Shanghai Wednesday Nov. 22 2017. A Chinese energy company has denied having anything to do with a multimillion dollar bribery sch
2 men accused of offering bribes to Uganda, Chad officials

CEFC China Energy's role was apparent in the formal complaint.

It did not say whether Deby had on any occasion met Ho, who was working at an NGO fully funded by CEFC China Energy, a Shanghai-based rising star of China's energy industry.

Two months later, Ho pledged a $2 million bribe to Deby on behalf of the energy company in exchange for obtaining lucrative oil rights from the Chadian government.

A month later, Gadio allegedly advised Ho to "reward" the Chadian president with "a nice financial package". The goal here was to obtain shares in Uganda's oil market.

Ng Lap Seng, a Chinese billionaire, was convicted in July of paying more than $1.7 million in bribes to U.N. ambassadors to secure rights to build a U.N. conference center in Macau to serve struggling Southern Hemisphere nations.

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Ho is alleged to have paid Deby $400,000 for his services via wire transfers transmitted through NY.

"They were allegedly willing to throw money at the leaders of two countries to bypass the normal course of business, but didn't realize that using the United States banking system would be their undoing", said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.

"It identified the chairman of the unnamed company as someone who was appointed as a "special honorary adviser" to the president of the UN General Assembly in 2015, when Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa held that position".

Ho also offered gifts to the Ugandan Foreign Minister and President and promised them future benefits, such as getting their family involved in a joint venture in Uganda with the energy company.

The embassy of Chad in Washington and Uganda's mission to the United Nations in NY did not respond to requests for comment.

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