A former Hong Kong government official was on Friday denied bail in a US case accusing of him using bribes to secure business deals.
Former Hong Kong secretary for home affairs Patrick Ho (何志平) was last week jailed after being charged with paying bribes on behalf of a Chinese energy conglomerate to the president of Chad and the Ugandan foreign minister.
US Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman rejected a bid by 68-year-old Ho’s lawyers to have him released on US$1 million bond and put under home detention with electronic monitoring at a rented Manhattan apartment, saying that she agreed with prosecutors’ argument that he was a flight risk.
One defense attorney said he would appeal the bail decision.
Ho and 61-year-old former Senegalese minister of foreign affairs Cheikh Gadio were charged in Manhattan federal court with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, international money laundering and conspiracy.
Prosecutors allege that Ho hatched the scheme at the UN when Ugandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa was president of the UN General Assembly.
Beginning in October 2014, the pair allegedly arranged bribes to secure business advantages for a Shanghai-headquartered multibillion-dollar conglomerate that operates internationally in the energy and financial sectors, court papers said.
Arguing against bail on Friday, Assistant US Attorney Daniel Richenthal told Freeman that Ho is worth up to US$8 million, has no ties to the US and is facing more than 10 years in prison if convicted.
“His incentive to flee is massive,” Richenthal said. “His ability to flee is massive.”
He also argued that the officials Ho allegedly bribed would have incentive to help him get out of the US and into countries without extradition treaties.
“There are a lot of people who would rather not see what the defendant did aired in open court,” Richenthal said.
Defense attorney Edward Kim described his client as a respected US-trained eye doctor and former Cabinet-level official in Hong Kong.
“To flee would be a disgrace,” Kim said.
“It would destroy everything he worked for. It would destroy his reputation,” he added.
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