Opening Statements in Alleged Bribes to Two African Presidents Case in New York

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Patrick Ho, Museveni, Kutesa

The U.S. claims a Hong Kong intermediary delivered to Uganda’s dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni $500,00 in cash as bribe money to win lucrative business deals on behalf of a powerful Chinese oil company.

Separately, the Hong Kong native, Chi Ping Patrick Ho delivered $2 million in cash in gift boxes to Idriss Deby, the president of Chad where the oil giant Ho was fronting for CEFC China Energy also wanted non-competitive and illegally awarded concessions in tne oil sector.

Patrick Ho

The U.S. alleges Ho used New York based financial institutions to wire the funds. He is on trial in federal court on bribery and money laundering charges.

“This case is about greed and corruption,” said Assist U.S. Attorney Paul Hayden in his opening statement on Monday in the trial of Chi Ping Patrick Ho, the Hong Kong native accused of fronting for CEFC China.

Tbe U.S. alleges that Ho, who operated an NGO affiliated with the United Nations used his access to top diplomats to bribe top African officials. In Uganda’s case, Ho developed relations in 2014 when the country’s foreign minister Sam Kutesa also assumed the one-year post of President of the U.N. General Assembly.

After Kutesa’s term expired and he returned to Uganda he created a fake charity to receive a $500,000 “donations” which was actually a bribe payment. Kutesa also invited Ho and officials of CEFC to Uganda for Museveni’s 2016 re-election (which several election observers concluded was neither free nor fair). During that visit Ho needed special arrangement with Uganda’s customs officials because he carried with him a “nice” gift for Gen. Museveni. The gift was actually a separate $500,000 bribe to Museveni, according to U.S. prosecutors.

In exchange CFEC was to get concessions in the infrastructure, banking, and oil industry in Uganda. CEFC also was to acquire Crane Bank in Uganda, and development a tourism theme park near Lake Victoria on land that was allocated by Museveni.

Patrick Ho’s lawyer, Ben Rosenberg, conceded that Ho did in fact make the payments to Deby, Museveni and Kutesa but that they were not bribes since he received nothing in return.

He said just because the payments were in cash “doesn’t make it a bribe.” He said the payments were made to build “good will” just in case the governments of Chad and Uganda were considering business ventures in the future.

The trial resumes tomorrow.

(More details to come)

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