As highlighted in this previous post, in November 2017 Chi Ping Patrick Ho (pictured) and Cheikh Gadio were criminally charged with conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, violating the FCPA, conspiring to commit international money laundering, and committing international money laundering in connection with alleged bribery schemes in Chad and Uganda on behalf of China Energy Fund Committee, an entity funded by CEFC China Energy Company Ltd.
In July 2018, Ho’s motion to dismiss was denied (see here), in September 2018 the DOJ quietly dismissed charges against Gadio (see here), and in late November Ho’s trial began with Gadio as a primary DOJ witness.
Yesterday, the DOJ announced that after a one week trial a federal jury found Ho guilty 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.
As stated in the DOJ release:
“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.
To the surprise of Ho and the CEFC China executives, President Déby rejected the $2 million bribe offer. Ho subsequently drafted a letter to President Déby claiming that the cash had been intended as a donation to Chad. Ultimately, Ho and CEFC China did not obtain the unfair advantage that they had sought through the bribe offer, and by mid-2015, Ho had turned his attention to a different “gateway to Africa”: Uganda.
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.”
In the DOJ’s release, Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski:
“Patrick Ho paid millions of dollars in bribes to the leaders of two African countries to secure contracts for a Chinese conglomerate. 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.”
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman (S.D.N.Y.) stated:
“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. 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.”
According to the DOJ release, Ho is scheduled to be sentenced on March 14, 2019.
For more on the verdict, see here from the New York Times.
FCPA Institute - Minneapolis (June 20-21, 2019)
A unique two-day learning experience ideal for a diverse group of professionals seeking to elevate their FCPA knowledge and practical skills through active learning. Learn more, spend less. CLE credit is available.