The founder and owner of a company, the Shanghai-based China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC), which allegedly offered bribes to African leaders, including Uganda’s foreign minister Sam Kutesa, in return for business favours, has been questioned by authorities in China.
Ye Jianming was arrested about four months ago in March, reportedly on the orders of Chinese President Xi Jinping. He was brought in for questioning last week on Friday July 20. Kutesa, while still UN General Assembly president reportedly made Ye his official adviser.
Ye’s questioning follows the November 21, 2017 arrest in New York of Hong Kong’s former Home Secretary Patrick Ho Chi-ping on charges of routing bribes for African government officials through US financial institutions.
Ye, a little-known but wealthy entrepreneur, employed Ho. CEFC allegedly offered a $2 million bribe to Chad’s president Idriss Deby in exchange for valuable oil rights and $500,000 to Kutesa for an energy deal in Uganda’s nascent oil sector.
Ho also provided the Ugandan foreign minister…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,” said a US Department of Justice statement on November 20, 2017.
Ho reportedly caused a $500,000 bribe to be paid, via wires transmitted through New York, New York, to an account designated by Kutesa. Kutesa has denied any wrongdoing.
Now, according to Inner City Press, the ‘nosy’ media that covers the workings of the United Nations, last week on July 19, Ho’s lawyers led by Benjamin Rosenberg of Dechert LLP, argued before U.S. district judge Loretta Preska that count after count of the indicts against him be dismissed.
Inner City reports that Rosenberg argued that under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, if Ho is a "domestic concern" some counts of the indictment must be dropped. The prosecution however called this argument absurd, saying, Ho is a national of China and a resident of Hong Kong who acted for the "Energy NGO" China Energy Fund Committee in allegedly bribing Kutesa, as well as Chad's President Idriss Deby.
The judge agreed, Inner City reports. Ho’s lawyers, next, they argued that even a series of transfers from HSBC in Hong Kong to HSBC in New York to Mashreq Bank in NY to Mashreq Bank in Dubai did not fall under the money laundering statute.
Again, the judge disagreed citing earlier cases of Daccarett and Julius Baer. In November last year, CEFC was described in US Federal Court as a front for bribes paid allegedly to Kutesa and others.
Ho was denied bail on February 5, with prosecution convincing court that the evidence against him was substantial and that if let loose, he could easily travel to run to countries like Chad, Uganda, Russia or Iran.
Prosecution in the complaint claim Ho also provided Kutesa, as well as President Museveni with gifts and promises of future benefits, including offering to let both officials share in the profits of a potential joint venture in Uganda involving the Energy Company and the officials’ family businesses."