The company behind former top official Patrick Ho has denied all accusations after he was arrested on bribery charges.
Ho, 68, was arrested in New York last weekend. He stands accused of facilitating multi-million dollar bribes destined for top officials in Chad and Uganda. The funds were transferred via Hong Kong and New York on behalf of a Chinese company to allegedly secure oil rights. If convicted, he faces 20 years in jail.
A former Hong Kong home affairs secretary, Ho held several titles at the United Nations and led the Hong Kong-based NGO China Energy Fund Committee, which was funded by the company CEFC China Energy.
In the US Department of Justice complaint, Ho and a former Senegal top diplomat – who acted as a middleman – allegedly offered a US$2 million bribe (HK$15.62 million) to the president of Chad. Ho was accused of arranging for a total of US$400,000 (HK$3.12 million) to be wired to an account in Dubai designated by the Senegalese.
He also allegedly facilitated further US$500,000 (HK$3.9 million) bribe to be wired to an account designated by the Ugandan foreign minister, who had recently completed his term as the president of the UN General Assembly.
The company said the NGO was not involved in any of the commercial activities of the company, and had no commercial authorisation relationship whatsoever with the firm.
“CEFC China does not have any investment activities in Uganda,” it said. “CEFC China’s investment project in [Chad] is only a financial investment in CPC Corporation, Taiwan. Therefore, it does not have any of the so-called ‘interest relationship’ with the Chadian government.”
The company added that it conducted its business activities in strict accordance with the law. However, the US complaint had cited numerous email chains as evidence that Ho had been communicating with the company’s top members over meetings with the related people and the bribes.
The NGO also said it did not authorise Ho and any other individuals to conduct commercial activities.
In its English statement, it referred Ho as He Zhiping – his name as pronounced in Mandarin, which is not his legal name.
“At present, Mr. He’s lawyer has submitted a rebuttal to the judicial authorities of the United States and upheld the legitimate legal rights of Mr He Zhiping in accordance with international laws and local regulations,” it said, though it also said the statement “does not represent Mr He Zhiping’s personal position.”
“The Fund is learning about details of the event through relevant channels.”
The NGO also said in a statement sent to the Ming Pao newspaper that CEFC China Energy just signed a five-year oil supply deal with Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, on Monday, “which may challenge the oil dollar-led international finance system.”
“Now America uses a false incident to start a fight, showing that the deepened cooperation between China and Russia has touched its sensitive area,” it said.
Meanwhile, Chad’s government has also denied the allegations.
“Faced with this umpteenth false allegation, the government of Chad formally refutes this shameful fabrication,” it said in a statement cited by AFP.
The Chad government said in its statement that it “rebels against the attitude of the US government and certain agencies that would tarnish the image of Chad and its president”.
Ho remains in US police custody at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, New York.