Hunter Biden's Chinese Client Appealed to CCP for Help in Legal Case, Court Records Show

(cropped from Andy Wong/AFP via Getty Images)
May 30, 2024

On December 10, 2017, CEFC China Energy executive Patrick Ho appealed to the Chinese Communist Party from a New York City jail. During the call, court documents show, Ho asked Beijing for help in an upcoming bribery case, noting that China had helped him hire "the best lawyer."

Three months earlier, CEFC China Energy hired Hunter Biden as Ho's lawyer.

It is unclear if Ho was referring to the troubled first son, who signed a $1 million retainer with CEFC China Energy on Sept. 18, 2017. But Ho's phone call, an FBI transcript of which was released in previously unreported court documents, adds another layer of mystery to the Biden family's relationship with CEFC China Energy.

The company first approached Hunter Biden through Western intermediaries in 2015, when Joe Biden was vice president. The company struck a multimillion-dollar consulting agreement with Hunter Biden and his uncle Jim in August 2017. Lawmakers have called the Biden family's work with CEFC a national security concern because of the conglomerate's ties to Chinese military intelligence.

Hunter Biden's legal work for Ho in particular has been a source of intrigue, in large part because Biden appears to have provided few legal services for Ho to warrant a seven-figure retainer. Biden signed on to represent Ho in mid-September 2017, around the same time he and Jim Biden met with Ho at his home in Hong Kong. A former Ho associate has told Congress that the Biden family obtained confidential information about federal investigations into CEFC China Energy through a high-level source at the FBI.

The Justice Department arrested Ho in November 2017 for offering $3 million in bribes to African officials on behalf of CEFC China Energy. It was while Ho was being held on those charges that he placed a jailhouse call to a mysterious Chinese associate identified only as "UM."

Ho asked "UM" to "send requests to the [Central Committee of the Communist Party] to ask the upper level to get involved" in his case. Ho also said that CEFC China Energy had "hired the best lawyer" to join his legal team. Months later, Hunter Biden would refer to Ho as the "fucking spy chief of China" in an audio recording found on the embattled first son's abandoned laptop.

The timing of Ho's phone conversation is conspicuous. On Dec. 12, 2017, two days after Ho's jailhouse phone call, Biden asked a close Ho associate, Yadong Liu, to meet him and his father in New York City. "Can you meet this evening early," Hunter Biden wrote. "My father will be in New York also … and I would like him to meet you along with my uncle and then you and I can talk." Hunter Biden and Liu had met through an encrypted text chat just three days earlier, according to messages released last week by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Liu played several roles at CEFC China Energy. He was the CEO of its strategic investment unit as well as the president of China Energy Fund Committee USA, the American arm of CEFC China Energy's think tank. Federal prosecutors alleged that Ho and other CEFC China Executives used the China Energy Fund Committee to pay bribes and peddle pro-China views to unwitting Western audiences. Liu attended Ho's federal trial in New York City in 2018.

Hunter Biden's text message to Liu also raises questions about why he so urgently wanted to meet with Liu and why he sought to involve his father.

Days before the proposed Biden meeting, Liu emailed Ho that he had been in contact with "the lawyers" about visiting Ho in jail. Ho welcomed a visit with his colleague, telling Liu that there was a "lot to discuss," according to documents released in Ho's case.

A week before that email chain, Ho told Liu that he would fight his legal case "to the very end."

"For it is not only HO who is on trial, it is CEFC, the Company, Country and Chinese values are on trial," he wrote in a Nov. 26, 2017, message.

Ho was convicted in 2019 for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for money laundering, and for conspiracy. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

The White House and attorneys for Hunter Biden did not respond to requests for comment.