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U.S. Authorities Arrest Two On Major Energy Corruption Scheme

U.S. authorities have arrested two foreign officials on charges of participating in a large-scale corruption system seeking to secure favorable investment terms for Chinese energy company CEFC in Africa.

The detainees are the former home affairs secretary of Hong Kong, Patrick Chi Ping Ho, and the former foreign minister of Senegal, Cheikh Gadio. The two, according to Department of Justice, bribed senior government officials in Uganda and Chad in favor of an unnamed company, which, Asia Times notes, the details in the DoJ complaint identify as CEFC.

Patrick Chi Ping Ho and Cheikh Gadio are charged with offering US$2 million to Chad’s president, Idriss Deby, to grant oil rights to the Chinese company and US$500,000 to the Foreign Minister of Uganda, Sam Kutesa, soon after he completed his term as President of the UN General Assembly.

The arrests were based on the two men’s use of the U.S. banking system to process the bribes disguised as donations. The charges, of violating money laundering legislation and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, could result in jail sentences of up to 20 years.

The most interesting part of the affair, however, is the alleged participation of CEFC, the rising star of the Chinese—and international—energy scene. CEFC is widely seen as a kind of mysterious company that has close ties to the Chinese government and plays a key part in President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road international expansion plan, according to observers.

The company recently invested US$9.1 billion in a stake in Rosneft and it has also spent heavily on oils storage capacity and transport infrastructure at home. While the company is private, it is said it is run like a state entity, reinforcing the suggestion that it has a strong Communist Party back to support it.

CEFC is also the funding source of the China Energy Fund Committee, a Hong Kong-based non-profit organization, which was led by Patrick Chi Ping Ho after his term as home affairs secretary.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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