Ho awaits fate in bribe case

Top News | Charlotte Luo 5 Dec 2018

Former Hong Kong secretary for home affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping has decided not to defend himself in a New York District Court over charges of bribery and money laundering.

The prosecution and defense were due to deliver their closing statements, which would then be followed by the jury's deliberation. The 12 jurors could reach a decision today at the earliest.

The decision of sentencing would take the judge one day to six months.

Ho has pleaded not guilty to five counts of bribery and three of money laundering.

On the sixth day of the trial yesterday, the prosecution called the last two witnesses to the stand.

The court was presented with the disclosure of Ho's international wire transfer records involving four banks in Africa, Dubai, Hong Kong and the United States. The prosecution accused Ho of receiving HK$5 million after his first meeting with the president of Chad, Idriss Deby, deposited by China Ocean Fuel Oil.

The prosecution first called Carol Calabrese, senior vice president of the HSBC branch in Buffalo, New York State.

The prosecution said Ho paid a US$200,000 (HK$1.56 million) consultancy fee to Senegal's former foreign minister Cheikh Gadio in March 2015 and then US$500,000 to the foundation under the name of Uganda's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kutesa, in May 2016.

Both transactions were transferred from HSBC Hong Kong to the US HSBC branch and then to agent banks in Dubai, Uganda and elsewhere.

The prosecution then called another witness, federal prosecutor Melissa Penland.

The prosecution said that on November 14, 2014, three days after Ho and the president of Chad met for the first time, there was a sum of HK$5 million in Ho's account, which was deposited by China Ocean Fuel Oil.

Ho and Gadio were accused of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing Deby with US$2 million to get oil development rights for Shanghai-based energy group CEFC China Energy and paying a US$500,000 bribe to an account designated by Kutesa.

Ho was Hong Kong's home affairs secretary between 2002 and 2007. After leaving the government, Ho joined a lobbying firm established and funded by CEFC China Energy.

Ho and Gadio were arrested in New York in November last year. Ho applied for bail several times but was rejected.

The 12 jurors and three substitutes, 11 women and four men, were chosen from 50 people from the Southern District of New York.

The judge earlier asked the jurors if they had strong views on China. All said they did not.

charlotte.luo@singtaonewscorp.com

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