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Patrick Ho

Hearing postponed for former Hong Kong minister Patrick Ho indicted in US over US$2.9 million bribe scheme

Adjournment leaves 68-year-old former home affairs secretary detained at New York City’s Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, once home to Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernard Madoff

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 April, 2018, 10:56am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 April, 2018, 11:01am

A hearing in the United States for former Hong Kong senior government official Patrick Ho Chi-ping has been postponed by more than six weeks as per a request filed by his lawyers and prosecuting attorneys.

The pre-trial hearing initially scheduled for April 13 in New York was adjourned to June 1, US justice department spokeswoman Dawn Dearden told the South China Morning Post.

The adjournment leaves the 68-year-old former home affairs secretary detained at New York City’s Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, once home to Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernard Madoff.

Ho has been held in federal custody since his arrest in November 2017. He was charged by the US federal government with money laundering and violating the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Ho pleaded not guilty to charges that he offered bribe to state leaders from Chad, Senegal and Uganda to obtain oil rights for a Chinese energy company.

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Ho served as Hong Kong’s home affairs secretary from 2002 to 2007 and is well known for getting Hong Kong the worst possible bamboo draw at a traditional fortune telling ceremony in 2003. That was followed by the Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) epidemic outbreak which claimed hundreds of lives in Hong Kong.

After leaving office, Ho became the secretary general of the China Energy Fund Committee, a Hong Kong think tank funded by CEFC China Energy Company, a major energy conglomerate that is based in Shanghai and has ties to the People’s Liberation Army.

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Ho is represented by a group of seven attorneys from New York law firm Krieger Kim & Lewin LLP.

Lead attorney Edward Kim said his team had identified a corporate flat on Manhattan’s east side for Ho to live in while under house arrest. However, the bail application filed before Ho’s last hearing in February was denied by federal district judge Katherine Forrest, fearing he presented a flight risk.

Kim declined to comment on the reason for the adjournment.

Lead prosecuting attorney Daniel Charles Richenthal did not respond to messages asking for comment.