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U.S. Drops Charges Against Ex-Senegal Official in Chinese Energy Bribery Case

Category: Business,Finance

Federal prosecutors have quietly dismissed charges against a former Senegalese government official who had been accused of conspiring with a representative of a large Chinese energy company in a bribery case.

In a one-page filing, federal prosecutors in Manhattan said on Friday that they were withdrawing charges against the former official, Cheikh Gadio, but offered no explanation for the decision. Dismissals of this sort often come with agreements not to prosecute in return for testimony.

The dismissal of the criminal complaint against Mr. Gadio, who had served as Senegal’s foreign minister, came roughly 10 months after he was arrested along with Chi Ping Patrick Ho in a high-profile foreign bribery case that could shed light on the operations of CEFC China Energy, an energy conglomerate with close ties to the Chinese government.

The authorities have said Mr. Ho met Mr. Gadio at the United Nations in 2014 and later paid him $400,000 for helping to use his influence with the president of Chad to secure oil rights for the Chinese energy company in the African country. Mr. Ho, who worked for a Hong Kong research organization that got financing from CEFC, is separately charged with paying bribes to officials in Uganda to secure similar oil deals for the energy company.

The dismissal of the bribery charges against Mr. Gadio presents an interesting wrinkle in the case against Mr. Ho, who now stands to go to trial alone in a federal courtroom in Manhattan in November.

Mr. Gadio is expected to testify at the trial but there is no indication of any broader agreement with federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York.

The dismissal came after months of negotiations between Mr. Gadio’s lawyer and prosecutors, according to prior court filings in the case.

“We are extremely grateful that the case against Dr. Gadio has been brought to a just resolution,” said Sean Hecker, a lawyer for Mr. Gadio. “Dr. Gadio looks forward to continuing to cooperate with U.S. authorities before returning to Senegal to continue his service to the Senegalese people.”

The charges against both men were brought under the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which is often used to police the actions of United States companies operating overseas. The charges against Mr. Ho are a bit unusual because they involve a Chinese company operating in Africa. The main connection to the United States is that Mr. Ho was a frequent visitor to New York and had meetings at the United Nations.

Mr. Gadio is credited with helping to broker a peace agreement that ended a military conflict between Chad and Sudan. Prosecutors said they had evidence that Mr. Gadio had helped broker a CEFC pledge in early 2015 that it would make a $2 million “donation” to Chad’s president for charitable causes.

Mr. Ho, an opthamologist by training, was a Hong Kong official and lives in Hong Kong. He is being held without bail at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan.

In the months since Mr. Ho’s arrest at Kennedy International Airport, there has been a good deal of turmoil at CEFC. Ye Jianming, the young Chinese businessman who built the energy company into a global conglomerate, vanished in China after being detained this year.

No explanation has been given for Mr. Ye’s disappearance. Prosecutors have suggested in court filings that CEFC is continuing to pay the legal fees for the large team of lawyers representing Mr. Ho.

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