Head of Organization Backed by Chinese Energy Conglomerate, and Former Foreign Minister of Senegal, Charged With Bribing High-Level African Officials
Defendants Allegedly Conspired to Bribe the President of Chad and the Foreign Minister of Uganda
A criminal complaint was unsealed today charging the head of a non-governmental organization based in Hong Kong and Virginia and the former Foreign Minister of Senegal with participating in a multi-year, multimillion-dollar scheme to bribe high-level officials in Chad and Uganda in exchange for business advantages for a Chinese oil and gas company (the “Energy Company”) in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
Chi Ping Patrick Ho aka Patrick C.P. Ho, 68, of Hong Kong, China, and Cheikh Gadio, 61, of Senegal, are each charged with conspiring to violate the FCPA, violating the FCPA, conspiring to commit international money laundering, and committing international money laundering. Gadio was arrested in New York on Friday afternoon and presented on Saturday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox. Ho was arrested on Saturday afternoon and was presented today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck and ordered detained.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim for the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI New York Field Office, Special Agent in Charge James D. Robnett of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York Field Office, made the announcement.
“This alleged scheme involved bribes at the highest levels of the governments of two nations,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco. “The Criminal Division is committed to investigating and prosecuting corrupt individuals who put at risk a level playing field for corporate competitiveness, regardless of where they live or work. Their bribes and corrupt acts hurt our economy and undermine confidence in the free marketplace.”
“In an international corruption scheme that spanned the globe, Chi Ping Patrick Ho and Cheikh Gadio allegedly conspired to bribe African government officials on behalf of a Chinese energy conglomerate,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kim. “Wiring almost a million dollars through New York’s banking system in furtherance of their corrupt schemes, the defendants allegedly sought to generate business through bribes paid to the President of Chad and the Ugandan Foreign Minister. As alleged, Ho’s Ugandan scheme was hatched in the halls of the United Nations in New York, when the country’s current Foreign Minister served as the President of the U.N. General Assembly, and then continued unabated upon his return to Uganda. International bribery not only harms legitimate businesses and fair competition, but it also destroys public faith in the integrity of government. And when this type of international corruption and bribery touches our shores and our financial system, as the alleged schemes did, federal criminal charges in an American court may very well be the end result.”
“The scheme described in this case boils down to these subjects allegedly trying to get their hands on the rights to lucrative opportunities in Africa,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “They were allegedly willing to throw money at the leaders of two countries to bypass the normal course of business, but didn’t realize that using the U.S. banking system would be their undoing. The FBI, our partners in the IRS and the law enforcement community work diligently day after day to protect the integrity of our financial institutions, and stop foreign entities corrupting international commerce.”
“IRS Criminal Investigation operates worldwide and has the expertise to identify bribery schemes such as alleged in the criminal complaint,” said IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Robnett. “Our special agents are especially skilled at piecing together these financial puzzles, even those that involve such high level participants.”
“These individuals allegedly offered millions of dollars in bribes to foreign officials, disguised as charitable donations, in order to seek business advantages,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Melendez. “One used his position with a United Nations Council to further this scheme. We will continue to aggressively investigate financial crimes committed by corrupt foreign officials while working collaboratively with our counterparts at the FBI and IRS.”
According to the allegations in the complaint, the defendants engaged in two bribery schemes to pay high-level officials of Chad and Uganda in exchange for business advantages for the Energy Company, a Shanghai-headquartered multibillion-dollar conglomerate that operates internationally in the energy and financial sectors. Defendant Ho was the head of a non-governmental organization based in Hong Kong and Virginia (the “Energy NGO”) that holds “Special Consultative Status” with the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council. The Energy NGO is funded by the Energy Company.
The complaint alleges that Ho, with Gadio’s assistance, caused the Energy Company to offer a $2 million bribe to the President of Chad in exchange for securing business advantages for the Energy Company in its efforts to obtain valuable oil rights from the Chadian government. In particular, in exchange for the bribe, the President of Chad provided the Energy Company with, among other things, an exclusive opportunity to obtain particular oil rights in Chad without facing international competition. Gadio, who is the former Foreign Minister of Senegal and who operated an international consulting firm, is alleged to have played an instrumental role in the scheme by, among other things, connecting Ho with the President of Chad and conveying the $2 million bribe offer to the President of Chad. Ho allegedly compensated Gadio by paying him $400,000 via wires transmitted through New York, New York.
It is further alleged that Ho caused a $500,000 bribe to be paid, via wires transmitted through New York, New York, to an account designated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda, who had recently completed his term as the President of the UN General Assembly (the “Ugandan Foreign Minister”). Ho also allegedly provided the Ugandan Foreign Minister, as well as the President of Uganda, with gifts and promises of future benefits, including offering to share the profits of a potential joint venture in Uganda involving the Energy Company and businesses owned by the families of the Ugandan Foreign Minister and the President of Uganda. These payments and promises were allegedly made in exchange for assistance from the Ugandan Foreign Minister in obtaining business advantages for the Energy Company, including the potential acquisition of a Ugandan bank.
The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations. All defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
The investigation was jointly conducted by the FBI and IRS-CI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided critical assistance.
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys David A. Last and Paul A. Hayden of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Douglas S. Zolkind, Thomas McKay, Daniel C. Richenthal and Shane T. Stansbury U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York’s Public Corruption Unit.
The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters. Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.