Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division announced that CHI PING PATRICK HO, a/k/a “Patrick C.P. Ho,” a/k/a “He Zhiping,” was found guilty Wednesday after a jury trial before U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska of participating in a multi-year, multimillion-dollar scheme to bribe top officials of Chad and Uganda in exchange for business advantages for CEFC China Energy Company Limited (“CEFC China”).
HO was convicted of violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), international money laundering, and conspiracy to commit both. HO is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Preska on March 14, 2019, at 10:00 a.m.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “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.”
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, 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.
The Uganda Scheme
The Uganda Scheme began around the same time as the Chad Scheme, when HO was in New York for the annual UN General Assembly.
HO met with Sam Kutesa, who had recently begun his term as the 69th President of the UN General Assembly (“PGA”).
HO, purporting to act on behalf of CEFC NGO, met with Kutesa and began to cultivate a relationship with him.
During the year that Kutesa served as PGA, HO and Kutesa discussed a “strategic partnership” between Uganda and CEFC China for various business ventures, to be formed once Kutesa completed his term as PGA and returned to Uganda.
In or about February 2016 – after Kutesa had returned to Uganda and resumed his role as Foreign Minister, and Yoweri Museveni (Kutesa’s relative) had been re-elected as the President of Uganda – Kutesa solicited a payment from HO, purportedly for a charitable foundation that Kutesa wished to launch.
HO agreed to provide the requested payment, but simultaneously requested, on behalf of CEFC China, an invitation to Museveni’s inauguration, business meetings with President Museveni and other high-level Ugandan officials, and a list of specific business projects in Uganda that CEFC China could participate in.
In May 2016, HO and CEFC China executives travelled to Uganda. Prior to departing, HO caused the CEFC NGO to wire $500,000 to the account provided by Kutesa in the name of the so-called “foundation,” which wire was transmitted through banks in New York.
HO also advised his boss, the Chairman of CEFC China, to provide $500,000 in cash to President Museveni, ostensibly as a campaign donation, even though Museveni had already been re-elected.
HO intended these payments as bribes to influence Kutesa and Museveni to use their official power to steer business advantages to CEFC China.
HO and CEFC China executives attended President Museveni’s inauguration and obtained business meetings in Uganda with President Museveni and top Ugandan officials, including at the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources.
After the trip, HO requested that Kutesa and Museveni assist CEFC China in acquiring a Ugandan bank, as an initial step before pursuing additional ventures in Uganda.
HO also explicitly offered to “partner” with Kutesa and Museveni and/or their “family businesses,” making clear that both officials would share in CEFC China’s future profits.
In exchange for the bribes offered and paid by HO, Kutesa thereafter steered a bank acquisition opportunity to CEFC China.
HO, 69, of Hong Kong, China, was convicted of one count of conspiring to violate the FCPA, four counts of violating the FCPA, one count of conspiring to commit international money laundering, and one count of committing international money laundering.
The maximum penalties for these charges are as follows: five years in prison for conspiring to violate the FCPA; five years in prison for each violation of the FCPA; 20 years in prison for conspiring to commit international money laundering; and 20 years in prison for committing international money laundering.
HO was acquitted of one count of international money laundering.