Hunter Biden associate Patrick Ho schemed to evade Iran sanctions, secure arms deal, court files say

Court documents filed in the New York criminal trial show Patrick Ho’s scheme to evade U.S. oil sanctions on Iran and secure illicit arms deals in the years before Hunter Biden legally represented him for $1 million. The threat of FARA charges still hang over his head.

Published: October 26, 2023 11:00pm

Updated: October 27, 2023 10:23am

Hunter Biden was paid $1 million by Chinese energy tycoon Ye Jianming to represent his deputy Patrick Ho, who was later convicted of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act and money laundering, was also accused in the trial of conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran and of helping to broker illicit arms deals with Arab countries while he was funded by Ye’s energy company.

Patrick Ho was arrested in November 2017 at New York’s JFK Airport two days after charges were filed against him in a sealed complaint. Ho was eventually convicted of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit the same in late 2018. In a press release after the conviction, the Department of Justice detailed two wide-ranging schemes by Ho to bribe African officials in Chad and Uganda to secure business advantages for the CEFC China Energy—Ye Jianming’s energy conglomerate.

One of the first phone calls that Ho placed after his arrest was to James Biden—Joe Biden's brother—who believed that Ho was trying to get in contact with his nephew, Hunter.

As the New York Post reported, before Ho’s arrest and trial, Hunter Biden signed on as “Counsel to matters related to US law and advice pertaining to the hiring and legal analysis of any US Law Firm or Lawyer” in September 2017, according to an attorney engagement letter obtained by the Post. Hunter Biden was wired $1 million for “Dr Patrick Ho Chi Ping Representation” according to once-confidential documents obtained by the U.S. Senate Committees on Homeland Security and Finance and described in a report published in 2020.

Though he did not directly represent Patrick Ho during his trial, emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop reveal that he played an instrumental role in organizing Ho’s defense.

“Thanks Ed. Per our discussion I would like to engage your firm on behalf of Dr. Patrick Ho of Hong Kong in the matter we discussed. I am authorized by Dr. Ho as his attorney to do so,” Hunter Biden wrote to Edward Kim of Krieger Kim & Lewin LLP in an email obtained from his laptop archive. Mr. Kim went on to serve as one of Patrick Ho’s lead lawyers in the case. “Please keep me informed,” Hunter continued.

“Can you please let us know the best way to reach you in case we need to reach out urgently?” Mr. Kim asked Hunter Biden. “We look forward to working with you.”


Unbeknownst to Hunter Biden, his own name would come up in Ho’s trial.

According to a memorandum released by the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project, Department of Justice prosecutors sought to redact Hunter Biden’s name from a key piece of evidence, specifically, an email discussing a planned dinner with Ye Jianming in New York. In the email, defendant Ho references “powerful and prominent” friends in Washington, D.C. when discussing a planned lunch on December 8th, 2015 with Vuk Jeremic, a former President of the U.N. General Assembly and acquaintance of Hunter Biden.

During the trial, the Assistant U.S. Attorney requested that the email be introduced in redacted form in an effort to keep a “political dimension” out of the case. The redaction was more likely than not because of Hunter Biden's name. 

Neither Mr. Kim nor Abbe Lowell—current lawyer for Hunter Biden—responded to Just the News’ request for comment.

The trial proceedings were extensive and covered Ho’s work for the China Energy Fund Committee, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Arlington, Virginia and which held “Special Consultative Status” at the United Nations. The CEFC NGO was funded by Ye Jianming’s energy company. Ho used the NGO to interact with African officials at the U.N., specifically Chadian President Idriss Déby and Ugandan Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa and President Yoweri Museveni to obtain oil rights and undefined future ventures, respectively, according to the DOJ.

Buried in the court documents is evidence presented by the DOJ of Patrick Ho’s efforts to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran and to secure illicit arms deals with Middle Eastern and North African countries, specifically Libya and Qatar.

“The evidence of the defendant’s [Ho] interest in and willingness to broker transactions in or with Iran principally consists of emails, spanning a multiple-year period,” a document filed by the prosecutors reads. In one email to his assistant in October of 2014 cited by prosecutors, Ho attaches a document which describes the “Iranian connection.” This was a little more than a year before Hunter Biden was introduced to Ye Jianming.

“Iran has money in a Bank in china which is under sanction. Iran wishes to purchase precious metal with this money. The precious metal is available through a Bank in HK which cannot accept money from the Bank in China which holds the money but is under sanction,” the excerpt reads. “The Iranian agent is looking for a Chinese company acting as a middle man in such transactions and will pay commission. (details to be presented orally) The Iranian connection has strong urge to establish trading relationship with us in oil and products…” it continued.

You can read the prosecutors’ motion below, which includes quotes from the emails:


The following year, in the summer of 2015, Ho received an email notifying him that the “Iranian team will arrive in BJ [Beijing].” An attachment was included with the email: “Presentation to Potential Partners Iran Petroleum Investment.” Patrick Ho forwarded this email to his assistant telling him that it is for “writing report to [the Chairman of CEFC NGO and CEFC China].”

Though the name was redacted by the prosecutors, the Chairman of CEFC China was Ye Jianming, who partnered closely with Hunter Biden and transferred millions of dollars to his accounts, including a $1 million payment for representing Ho. The prosecutors' evidence shows that Ho’s efforts to facilitate contacts between Iran and CEFC China continued until at least June of 2016. It is unclear if any deals were ever secured. 

The United States has long maintained sanctions on Iran in the financial and banking sectors, on oil exports, on regime assets, and weapons development. The financial sanctions in particular were designed to “isolate Iran from the international financial system,” according to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Other sanctions have been dedicated to curbing Iran’s oil revenue.

The prosecutors also included evidence that Patrick Ho participated in efforts to organize arms deals during his tenure with CEFC’s NGO. In one email, an “End User Certificate” was attached, which involved the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Libya. In 2011, the United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 1970 which, among other things, imposed an arms embargo on the Libyan state under Dictator Muammar Al-Qadhafi for its use of force against civilians and its human rights abuses. The resolution remained in effect during Patrick Ho’s attempts to facilitate an arms deal.

The prosecutors presented further evidence of a proposed deal with Qatar. “It so turns out Qatar also needs urgently a list of toys from us. But for the same reason we had for Libya, we cannot sell directly to them,” Ho wrote to one of his associates. “Qatar good chance bc there is no embargo. Libya is another case bc going against an embargo is tricky,” Ho’s associated responded. “Qatar needs new toys quite urgently. Their chief is coming to China and we hope to give them a piece of good news. Please confirm soonest,” Ho said.

In addition to the $1 million payment to represent Ho, Hunter Biden also received at least $2.6 million from CEFC and Ye Jianming during the period from 2017 to 2018, according to Hunter Biden's now-defunct plea agreement with the Biden Justice Department in which he was prepared to plead guilty to tax charges in exchange for immunity from prosecution. The plea agreement also listed another $664,000 payment from a “Chinese infrastructure investment company,” likely CEFC Infrastructure Investment (US) LLC, a subsidiary of CEFC China Energy.

At the time, CEFC was seeking to buy up U.S. and Western energy assets when it approached Hunter Biden starting in late 2015, according to text messages obtained by Just the News. Those messages, provided to the FBI by Hunter Biden’s erstwhile business partner Tony Bobulinski, detailed CEFC’s efforts to enter the U.S. energy market, with the Biden family name being floated by business partners as a selling point for the Chinese.

Both Ye Jianming and Patrick Ho also had extensive connections to the Chinese Communist Party. Ye’s CEFC China Energy received funding from the China Development Bank and Ye served as a deputy secretary general of the China Association for International Friendly Contact (CAIFC), an alleged arm of the Political Department of China’s military. Ye’s companies had direct relationships with numerous officials in China’s military apparatus, according to Senate investigators. Ye Jianming ultimately disappeared in 2018 after a Chinese government investigation in the wake of Patrick Ho's U.N. scandal. 

Ho once served in Hong Kong’s government as the Home Affairs Secretary, under the administration of Tung Chee-Hwa, as the territory was being transferred to the rule of the Chinese Communist Party after more than a century of British rule. He also served in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a high ranking body in China’s communist United Front. After government service he went to work for Ye Jianming.

In a famous audio message found on Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop, Hunter Biden called Ho “the f**king spy chief of China." Though this shocking claim is not confirmed by any outside sources, it shows that Hunter Biden thought that Ho was connected to Chinese intelligence in some significant way.

The Justice Department still has an unresolved inquiry into Hunter Biden over whether he violated the The Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”) in working with Ukrainian Burisma and Chinese CEFC China Energy. That law imposes disclosure requirements and other legal obligations on any individual or entity who becomes an “agent of a foreign principal.” 

IRS Whistleblower Gary Shapley told congressional investigators this summer that he believes the behavior of prosecutors in the Hunter Biden case, specifically in denying to pursue a physical search warrant against the guest house at Joe Biden’s property, “was a significant blow to the Foreign Agents Registration Act piece of the investigation.”

[Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article mistook the conviction for bribery and money laundering with allegations where the prosecution referred to Ho scheming to violate Iran sanctions and secure illicit arms deals. He was not charged with those specific crimes.

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