Ray of hope for Ho jail transfer to HK

Top News | Phoenix Un 10 May 2019

Requesting a transfer of former home affairs chief Patrick Ho Chi-ping to a Hong Kong prison is a possibility to be studied by the government, says Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Ho, 69, was sentenced to jail for three years and fined of US$400,000 (HK$3.12 million) by a New York court.

It found him guilty of seven out of eight counts he faced, including bribing African leaders such as former Ugandan foreign minister Sam Kutesa to win oil rights for Chinese energy firm CEFC China Energy in Chad and Uganda.

But he was given credit for the 16 months he has already served, so at most will spend only an additional 20 months behind bars.

During the chief executive's question-and-answer session in Legco, New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee urged Lam to file a request to the United States to transfer Ho to Hong Kong to serve the remainder of his sentence.

"According to my understanding, if the three sides - namely Hong Kong, the United States and Ho - agree, he can be transferred to Hong Kong or sent to a hospital, so that he won't suffer that much," Ip said.

Lam said she would consider Ip's suggestion.

"I will ask the Secretary for Security [John Lee Ka-chiu] to study the arrangement with the United States and our legal basis, whether it's us or the person involved who should make the request," Lam said.

Ho was the secretary for home affairs from 2002 to 2007. Lam used to work under him as the home affairs permanent secretary from 2006 to 2007.

He was charged with four counts of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and one count of conspiracy to violate the Act.

Ho was also charged with two counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to launder money.

According to the prosecution, Ho told his family and friends after being found guilty of the seven counts in December last year that he was a victim of an anti-Chinese atmosphere.

"I am the first of the sacrificial lambs of such hostility," Ho wrote.

In the same session, Lam said it is worrying that the first quarter's growth is expected to be only 0.5 percent, as exports of the SAR are still not performing well.

There are a lot of uncertainties in the global economy. "Hong Kong is set to be affected by trade disputes due to its open economic system," she said.

The government has taken the initiative to explore alternative markets, including the ASEAN, and will provide small and medium enterprises with support.

On the Greater Bay Area project, she said there were already 120,000 Hong Kong residents who were trying to obtain the mainland's resident permits by March.

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