Court upholds conviction of Chinese businessman linked to Hunter Biden


A federal appeals court upheld the criminal convictions against Patrick Ho, a Chinese businessman and think tank leader linked to President-elect Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, as the younger Biden has recently been revealed to be under federal investigation, potentially in connection to his Chinese business dealings.

When Ho, one of Chinese energy tycoon Ye Jianming’s lieutenants, was charged by the Justice Department in 2017, the first call he reportedly made after his arrest was to Joe Biden’s brother, James, who has said he thought the call was meant for Hunter Biden. Ho was indicted and convicted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for his role in a global money laundering and bribery scheme aimed at government officials in Africa. The Justice Department also accused Ho of helping with Iranian sanctions evasion and working to use the Chinese company’s connections to sell weaponry to Chad, Libya, and Qatar. Ho was sentenced to three years in prison in March 2019 and was deported to Hong Kong in June. Ho had tried reaching out to Joe Biden's son for help because he agreed to represent Ho as part of his efforts to work out a liquefied natural gas deal worth tens of millions of dollars with Chinese Communist Party-linked CEFC China Energy leader Ye, who has since disappeared in China.

A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit issued a 52-page opinion written by Judge Richard Sullivan. Ho unsuccessfully appealed his convictions for conspiracy, money laundering, and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act after a December 2018 jury trial. The appeals court judges noted that Ho claimed that “the evidence was insufficient to support his FCPA conviction,” that “the wires at issue in his money laundering conviction did not go ‘to’ or ‘from’ the United States as required to convict,” and that “the district court abused its discretion in admitting certain evidence at trial.” The judges said that “we reject each of Ho’s arguments and affirm the district court’s judgment in all respects.”

A Senate Republican report from September concluded that “Ye raised concerns with Hunter Biden that one of his associates, Patrick Ho, was under investigation by U.S. law enforcement” in 2017 and “Hunter Biden subsequently agreed to represent Ho.” In August 2017, CEFC Infrastructure Investment “wired $5 million to the bank account for Hudson West III,” linked to Hunter Biden, and “the same day the $5 million was received, and continuing through Sept. 25, 2018, Hudson West III sent frequent payments to Owasco, Hunter Biden’s firm.” Those payments “were described as consulting fees” and reached $4.79 million in just over a year. In addition, in March 2018, a $1 million payment was sent from Hudson West III to Owasco with a memo line for “Dr Patrick Ho Chi Ping Representation.” The report stated that “in his alternative explanation, Hunter Biden indicated that the misdirected $1 million was related to his representation of Ye’s associate, Patrick Ho.” It is not clear what legal work Hunter Biden provided to Ho.

The court docket for Ho indicates that Geoffrey Berman, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, sought Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act authorities against Ho in February 2018.

“The evidence at trial established that Ho used his position as an officer or director of a U.S.-based non-governmental organization to engage in two bribery schemes for the benefit of China CEFC Energy Company … CEFC Energy funded a non-profit NGO in Hong Kong known as the China Energy Fund Committee … That entity, in turn, funded a non-profit U.S. entity, China Energy Fund Committee Inc., which was incorporated in Virginia, where it had an office, and which used a suite affiliated with CEFC Energy in Trump World Tower in New York,” Sullivan wrote.

The judge added that “Ho served as an officer and the principal director of CEFC NGO, holding the title of Secretary General” and “was also an officer and director of the U.S. NGO, and ran the daily operations of both entities.” The judge said that “as part of his work with CEFC NGO (including through the U.S. arm), Ho often visited the United Nations and made contacts with high-ranking officials, including Presidents of the UN General Assembly, to help CEFC Energy find business opportunities” and that “Ho engaged in two schemes – the ‘Chad scheme’ and the ‘Uganda scheme’ – to advance CEFC Energy’s commercial interests.” The Chad scheme included the Chinese businessman arranging a meeting with the president of Chad, Idriss Deby, and attempting to bribe the African leader with boxes filled with $2 million in cash.

Concerns about Hunter Biden gained broader attention this month after multiple outlets reported that he is being investigated in connection with his taxes and overseas business with China and other countries in a federal inquiry that was opened as far back as 2018. Joe Biden’s campaign, along with many in the media, dismissed the Hunter Biden laptop story as being part of a Russian disinformation operation, even though Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said that “there is no intelligence that supports that … Hunter Biden’s laptop is part of some Russian disinformation campaign.”

Back in 2017, former business partner Tony Bobulinski worked with James Biden, Hunter Biden, and others to create a business dubbed SinoHawk, formed to establish a joint venture with CEFC. Bobulinski repeatedly expressed in 2017 messages to his business partners and in emails to CEFC that he expected the venture to get off the ground with $10 million in startup money from the Chinese businessman. The money never showed up, but Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson concluded that millions of dollars were ultimately sent by CEFC to accounts linked to James and Hunter Biden instead.

President-elect Biden has denied any knowledge of his son’s overseas business dealings and involvement in any wrongdoing.

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