The United States Justice Department has arrested Hong Kong's former home affairs secretary and the ex-foreign minister of Senegal on charges of bribing high-profile officials in Uganda and Chad to help a Chinese oil and gas company land important contracts.
Chi-Ping Patrick Ho of Hong Kong was arrested on Saturday, while Cheikh Gadio, the former foreign minister of Senegal, was arrested in New York on Friday.
"In an international corruption scheme that spanned the globe, Chi-Ping Patrick Ho and Cheikh Gadio allegedly conspired to bribe African government officials on behalf of a Chinese energy conglomerate," Joon Kim, acting US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement, according to Reuters.
"Wiring almost a million dollars through New York's banking system in furtherance of their corrupt schemes, the defendants allegedly sought to generate business through bribes paid to the president of Chad and the Ugandan foreign minister."
While the name of the Chinese firm that the duo was said to be helping has not been revealed by the US officials, details in the complaint filed in New York federal district court hint at the firm being CEFC China Energy based in Shanghai.
The investigation, in general, may not mean much to India, but CEFC China Energy is the same firm that has an important stake in Chinese President Xi Jinping's One Belt One Road initiative. The OBOR is structured along six corridors in Eurasian countries, with an aim to improve co-operation and connectivity. India is a part of one of the corridors that connects China, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and India.
Now, with CEFC China Energy seemingly benefitting from these bribery deals, one cannot help but wonder about the impact that the investigation may have on the ambitious OBOR initiative.
Meanwhile, as per the investigation, Chad's president received a bribe of $2 million and he then gave the Chinese firm an opportunity to land oil rights in the land-locked country without any competition. In the transaction, Gadio is said to have been the middleman and Ho paid him $400,000 for the deal. Additionally, a bribe of $500,000 was also wired to an account designated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda.
"Their bribes and corrupt acts hurt our economy and undermine confidence in the free marketplace," AFP quoted Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco as saying.
While Ho appeared in court on Monday and was ordered detained, Gadio was in court on Saturday, but there is no information on whether he remains detained or not.