Patrick Ho Chi-ping, a Christian and former Hong Kong secretary for home affairs, has been charged with bribery despite having previously proclaimed honesty and trustworthiness to be China’s core values.
Ho and an ex-foreign minister of Senegal, Cheikh Gadio, were arrested on Nov. 18 and 17 respectively in New York.
They stand accused of involvement in an African scheme centered on the paying of large bribes to high-level officials in Chad and Uganda.
The alleged aim was to secure favorable oil deals for a Chinese conglomerate.
According to US prosecutors, almost US$2 million was wired through New York’s banking system and there were promises of futures gifts and benefits. Chad’s government has denied the allegations as a “shameful fabrication”.
Ho and Gadio, charged with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and money laundering, face jail sentences of up to 20 years.
Ho, 68, is now in US custody but has sought bail.
He is currently deputy chairman and secretary general of the China Energy Fund Committee, which is a Hong Kong-based think-tank focusing on diplomacy and energy matters.
The Committee is fully funded by Shanghai-based China CEFC Energy Company Limited.
CEFC China released a statement on Nov. 21 denying any investment activities in Chad or Uganda.
Ho served as Hong Kong Secretary for Home Affairs from 2002 to 2007.
In 2002, he controversially promoted legalization of soccer betting.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who had worked under Ho in the Home Affairs Bureau, avoided commenting on Ho’s arrest.