Dr. Chi Ping Patrick Ho was jailed last week after being charged with paying bribes on behalf of a Chinese energy conglomerate to the president of Chad and the Ugandan foreign minister.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman rejected a bid by lawyers for the 68-year-old Ho to have him released on $1 million bond and put under home detention with electronic monitoring at a rented Manhattan apartment, saying she agreed with prosecutors' argument that he was a flight risk.
Ho's attorney said he would appeal the bail decision.
Ho, 68, of Hong Kong, and Cheikh Gadio, 61, of Senegal, were charged in Manhattan federal court with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, international money laundering and conspiracy.
Prosecutors allege that Ho hatched the scheme at the United Nations when the Ugandan foreign minister was president of the U.N. General Assembly. Beginning in October 2014, the pair arranged bribes to secure business advantages for a Shanghai-headquartered multibillion-dollar conglomerate that operates internationally in the energy and financial sectors, court papers say.
Arguing against bail on Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Richenthal told the judge that Ho is worth up to $8 million, has no ties to the United States and is facing more than 10 years in prison if convicted.
"His incentive to flee is massive," Richenthal said. "His ability to flee is massive."
He also argued that the officials Ho allegedly bribed would have incentive to help him get out of the United States and into countries without extradition treaties, he said.
"There are a lot of people who would rather not see what the defendant did aired in open court," he said.
Defense attorney Edward Kim described his client as a respected U.S.- trained eye doctor and former cabinet-level official in Hong Kong, where he served as home affairs secretary.
"To flee would be a disgrace," Kim said. "It would destroy everything he worked for. It would destroy his reputation."
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