Patrick Ho sets out appeal points

Local | Phoenix Un 12 Jul 2019

Disgraced former secretary for home affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping listed four reasons to appeal against his US conviction of bribing African officials, court documents show.

Ho, 69, was found guilty last December on seven of eight counts of bribery and money laundering over oil rights for Chinese conglomerate CEFC China Energy in Chad and Uganda.

He was jailed for three years and fined US$400,000 (HK$3.14 million) by the Federal District Court in Manhattan in March.

Ho's lawyer submitted documents with four main reasons to the Court of Appeal, demanding the withdrawal of all convictions.

Two of the reasons had already been suggested, but were not accepted by Judge Loretta Preska.

One of them centered on the fact that the money involved was transferred from Hong Kong to Uganda via the United States, thus the country was neither the starting point nor destination of the transfer.

The document argued that the money laundering charge should be dropped since the original intention of the legislation should not cover such types of money transfers.

Ho's lawyer again raised the argument that the prosecution charged Ho with laws targeting foreigners and businesses of domestic concerns, which Ho found contradictory.

It also believes that as Ho worked on behalf of the CEFC Hong Kong non-governmental fund committee in the SAR and CEFC China Energy Company in Shanghai, he didn't act with US concerns, thus the crime regarding domestic concerns should not be used to charge him. New reasons were also given, including that the court made mistakes in accepting some evidence, such as quoting Chad president Idriss Deby's words and phone messages of the son of former Senegalese foreign minister Cheikh Gadio.

Ho's lawyer argued that both Deby and Gadio's son were not witnesses, and there were no reasons to quote them.

The documents also said that the prosecution unnecessarily guided the jury with graphs, and the court should not have accepted that.

Ho's lawyer estimated before that Ho might need to serve only 31 months before being released on good behavior.

Having served 16 months already, Ho could be released in June next year.

Ho and Gadio were arrested in New York in November 2017 for foreign corruption and money laundering.

Gadio agreed to become a state witness while Ho was denied bail five times.

His trial started in New York on November 26 last year, when he pleaded not guilty to eight charges, one of which pertained to violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act as he suggested offering money to Deby and Uganda's then-minister of foreign affairs, Sam Kutesa, for business opportunities for CEFC China Energy.

Another four charges included promising to pay a bribe of US$2 million to Deby, and meeting Kutesa twice to bribe him. The other three involved money laundering.

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