The United States continues to be gravely concerned about the global crackdown on civil society and attempts to close civic space, including here at the UN. We are a strong promoter and defender of civil society’s participation at the UN. We believe it is the responsibility of all members of this Committee to ensure that NGOs whose work contribute to the mission of the UN are properly accredited and treated fairly, and our long record of accomplishment as a member of this Committee speaks for itself. We strive to carry out our work in this Committee in an open and transparent fashion, and have encouraged other Committee members to do the same.
At its best, civil society plays a special role in representing the highest values and aspirations of the UN Charter and providing alternative voices at the UN. Regrettably, not all organizations that come to the UN and seek accreditation are truly representative of these aspirations, but rather attempt to use the UN as a platform to perpetrate fraudulent and illicit activities. Doing so is not only a violation of the rules of the UN and the ECOSOC, but it is also a breach of trust and a serious threat to those organizations whose work does provide important contributions to our own.
Unfortunately, we have such a case before us today. Last week, we sent a Diplomatic Note to the Committee’s outgoing Chair and to all members of this Committee with our request that this Committee recommend withdrawing the ESOCOC special consultative status of the NGO China Energy Fund Committee, or CEFC, which was granted in 2011.
This request was carefully considered and is being made in the first session of this Committee following the conviction of an individual in U.S. federal court on serious criminal charges relating to his use of the organization as a platform for criminal activity, the details of which are provided in the Diplomatic Note. It is a shame to see an NGO subvert and manipulate its ECOSOC accreditation in this manner, so it is with deep disappointment that we bring this situation to the attention of the Committee today. We are making this request before the full Committee in the full interest in due diligence, transparency, and openness. We believe it is important that the Committee carry out its responsibility to protect and ensure the continued integrity of the ECOSOC accreditation process by taking prompt action to address this case.
CEFC is registered in both Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and in the State of Virginia in the United States as a not-for-profit or charitable organization. CEFC received ECOSOC special consultative status in 2011.
On December 5, 2018, a jury in a Manhattan federal court found Chi Ping Patrick Ho, CEFC’s Deputy Chairman and Secretary General, guilty of taking part in a multi-year, multimillion-dollar scheme to bribe foreign leaders in exchange for business advantages for CEFC China Energy a Shanghai-based corporate entity that was the primary financial benefactor of the CEFC. Mr. Ho was convicted of violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, international money laundering, and conspiracy to commit both. According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, he utilized CEFC’s ECOSOC special consultative status to access UN resources and people and advance commercial goals, including through bribery schemes. We also have been unable to document any activity by this organization out of its Virginia-based location since Mr. Ho’s arrest in 2016, and note that it has not filed the requisite tax documents required of not-for-profit organizations in the United States since that date. We have provided all NGO Committee members with further details on the case, including a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice on the conviction, and are prepared to provide member states with any additional information they may require.
ECOSOC resolution 1996/31 governs the process for ECOSOC consultative status. Article 57(a) of 1996/31 stipulates that the consultative status of non-governmental organizations shall be suspended up to three years or withdrawn “if an organization, either directly or through its affiliates or representatives acting on its behalf, clearly abuses its status by engaging in a pattern of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
Article 57(b) of 1996/31 further stipulates that consultative status be suspended up to three years or withdrawn “if there exists substantiated evidence of influence from proceeds resulting from internationally recognized criminal activities such as the illicit drugs trade, money-laundering or the illegal arms trade.”
In view of the conviction of Mr. Ho on money laundering charges and the use of the organization for criminal activity and bribery activities that involved the use of the organization’s consultative status and other organizational resources, the United States has determined that a request to withdraw consultative status in accordance with Article 57 of ECOSOC resolution 1996/31 is appropriate and necessary. We believe the Committee has a responsibility to ensure that ECOSOC special consultative status is not misused as a platform for criminal activity.
We understand, per ECOSOC resolution 1996/31, that CEFC has the right to respond to the request to recommend withdrawal of its consultative status. We request that the Secretariat inform CEFC of its right to respond immediately. We further request that if CEFC chooses to respond, that the Secretariat request it do so before the tenth meeting of this Committee on Friday, January 25, to then allow this Committee sufficient time to consider the U.S. request further. We also remain prepared to provide additional information regarding this matter to the Secretariat, and encourage the Committee and the Secretariat to handle all proceedings in this case as openly and transparently as possible.
Thank you, Chairperson.