From the November 3, 1861, New York Times. Continued from November 14, 2016.
Even before the supposed Confederate privateer Neva sailed to San Francisco and was captured by the Revenue Cutter Mary on November 14, 1861, there was knowledge about it.
Taken directly from the newspaper:
The Hong Kong Press of the 10th of Aug. says: The United States storekeeper at Shanghai was a politician named 'Judge' Cleary. We believe he earned the title from having been a magistrate in California. It seems from the last advices from Shaghai that this man, in connection with Col. WARD, (the celebrated fillibuster), Capt. ALLEN, (who brought the steamship Surprise from California,) and Capt. LYNCH, (for some years in command of the steamer Antelope, and lately of the Contest,) purchased the schooner Neva, equipped her from the United States naval stores, and intend to cruise off the coast as a privateer.
"The steamer Saginaw hurried up yesterday, on the intelligence being made known, and, we make small doubt, will capture her."
So, it would seem that the schooner Neva was purchased by a group of Confederate sympathizers named Ward, Allen and Lynch with the goal of turning her into a privateer to cruise the Chinese waters and prey on U.S. shipping.
Even worse, they were able to arm and equip the Neva with U.S. naval stores supplied them by another Confederate sympathizer named Cleary who was in charge of them in Shanghai.