Former Hong Kong home affairs minister Patrick Ho Chi-ping’s latest bid to be released on bail was denied on Thursday by the US Court of Appeals in New York.
Ho was arrested in the US in November and charged with multiple counts of bribery and money laundering, and has been detained for more than eight months.
Ho, who turned 69 last week in prison, is scheduled to stand trial starting in November.
He has been charged with eight counts of bribery and money laundering after allegedly offering US$2.9 million (HK$22.8 million) worth of bribes to government officials in Uganda and Chad to advance oil and development rights for the Shanghai-based CEFC China Energy.
Ho had requested bail three times since his arrest in New York last November but was turned down by the federal court for the Southern District of New York, which said he posed a severe flight risk.
Ho’s co-defendant, Cheikh Gadio, the former Senegal foreign minister, has been out on bail and under house arrest since November. The South China Morning Post earlier reported that Gadio has been in discussions with the US prosecution about a potential deal.
Ho had proposed a bail package that included a US$3 million cash surety, one flat in the city from his mother and another from his brother, plus a US$10 million personal recognisance bond.
But judges sided with prosecutors, who argued there would be no way to guarantee that the US government would be able to seize foreign property valued at US$4 million.
When Ho appealed the court’s bail decision in June, his lawyers argued that the court had “overstated” his flight risk.
But prosecutors countered that Hong Kong could refuse to extradite Ho if he fled the US for his hometown. Moreover, they argued, CEFC, which has financed Ho’s legal fees, could help him flee.