Ho wife 'needs a job' as sentence date nears

Top News | Phoenix Un 14 Mar 2019

Former actress Sibelle Hu Hui-chung says she has to look for a job since her husband Patrick Ho Chi-ping is no longer the family's breadwinner.

Hu, 60, was among the 149 people who wrote mitigation letters for Ho, which were submitted by the his lawyers to the New York Southern District Court.

Ho, 69, former secretary for home affairs, was found guilty last year by a jury on seven of eight counts of bribery and money laundering over oil rights for private Chinese conglomerate CEFC China Energy in Chad and Uganda.

The court is scheduled to sentence Ho - who faces up to 65 years in prison - on March 25. Defense attorneys submitted the documents to Judge Loretta Preska yesterday urging that Ho be shown leniency.

The lawyers urged Preska to sentence him to an imprisonment equivalent to the time he has been in custody so that he can be released once his sentence has been handed down.

They handed in 149 mitigation letters, including those written in Chinese by Hu and his 94-year-old mother, Cheung Chan-ha.

An English letter by daughter Audrey Ho Ka-chun, 19, was also submitted.

Hu's five-page letter recalled how kind-hearted Ho was when he was an ophthalmologist, particularly when he waived a HK$50,000 surgery fee for a poor old woman and used his practice to help patients for free in remote areas of China.

"He is not a smooth and slick person, but he is absolutely a sincere gentleman with great character. He is a gentleman that is rare in the world," Hu wrote.

She said Ho gave up a career as a doctor with an annual salary of about US$1 million (about HK$7.8 million) to become a government secretary with a yearly salary of HK$1 million to serve society.

Hu said Ho's mother is waiting for her son to return home.

She added that she also needs "to find a job for my livelihood."

Hu admitted to being so grief-stricken recently that there were many occasions when she "did not want to live any longer."

She said she asked some of her husband's friends to write mitigation letters. "Some of them did not respond, meaning they refused to help, because they were afraid of offending the US government. They saw no future for Patrick and he had no more value."

Hu, a former Taiwanese and Hong Kong actress who had a career from the late 1970s to the late 1990s, married Ho in 1998 and acted in only two movies after that.

The two-page letter by Cheung, a retired teacher, started by saying she was writing it with tears in her eyes. She said her son joined the government because he thought "a doctor can only cure a few patients, while he can serve the majority of people in politics."

Cheung is saddened by the fact that her son is already 69 and in poor health with a brain disease, which causes him severe pain.

"It worries me that he might pass away in prison and I, with all my hair turning white, hope to spend my final years with my son," she wrote. "If I can see my son again, I will rest in peace when I die."

Ho and Cheikh Gadio, who served as Senegal's minister of foreign affairs, were arrested in New York in November 2017 for foreign corruption and money laundering.

Gadio agreed to become a state witness afterward, while Ho was denied bail five times due to a risk of absconding.

Ho's trial started on November 26 last year in New York, where he faced eight charges.

One involved suggesting to offer money to incumbent Chadian President Idriss Deby and Uganda's minister of foreign affairs Sam Kutesa for business opportunities of CEFC China Energy.

Another four counts revolved around promising to pay a bribe of US$2 million to Deby and meeting Kutesa twice to bribe him, while the other three pertained to money laundering.

The jury found him guilty on seven of eight charges. Ho was found not guilty of one of the money laundering charges.

phoenix.un@singtaonewscorp.com

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