NYT: Trump and his people have more and more questions to Biden about a conflict of interest over Ukraine
The name of the former US Vice President, and now one of the participants in the presidential race among Democrats, Joe Biden, has recently appeared in many scandals, ranging from unwanted contact with women and ending with the possible involvement in corruption schemes in Ukraine, in which his son Hunter Biden was involved. New York Times published his investigation into the connections of Joe Biden and his son Hunter with Ukraine. ForumDaily offers a translation of this material.
Joe Biden during the time of the vice-presidency enthusiastically perceived his foreign policy role, intimidating the government of Ukraine, which is notorious for its corruption. One of the most memorable speeches of Biden was held in Kiev in March 2016: then threatened to deprive Ukraine of a billion dollars in US credit guaranteesif Ukrainian leaders do not fire the country's chief prosecutor Viktor Shokin, accused of turning a blind eye to corruption in his own department and among the political elite of Ukraine, - writes New York Times.
The pressure campaign worked. Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who was criticized by other Western countries and international creditors, was dismissed by the Ukrainian parliament.
Among those who were interested in such a result was Biden's youngest son, Hunter. At that time, he was on the board of directors of the energy company Burisma Holdings, owned by Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochy, who was in sight of the dismissed prosecutor general.
Hunter Biden is a Yale-educated lawyer who served on the board of directors of Amtrak, several non-profit organizations and think tanks, but had no experience in Ukraine. In addition, just a few months earlier, he had been fired from the US Navy reserve after testing positive for cocaine. He was paid about $ 50 a month to work at the Ukrainian company Burisma Holdings.
General information about how the role of Bidenov intersected in Ukraine, has long been known to the general public. However, representatives of the former vice-president claim that he always acted in the interests of the policy of the United States, regardless of his son’s actions, never discussed this issue with Hunter and that he allegedly learned about the role of his son in the Ukrainian energy company from the news.
But new details about Hunter Biden's involvement in the case, and the decision of the current Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Yuriy Lutsenko, to resume the investigation into the Burisma case, brought the problem back to the spotlight when the elder Biden began his presidential campaign on the eve of the 2020 elections of the year.
It turned out that Hunter Biden and his American business partners were part of Burisma’s efforts to attract well-connected democrats at a time when the investigation into the company was conducted not only by Ukrainian forces, but also by officials in the Obama administration. At that time, Hunter Biden's work at Burisma caused concern among State Department officials that it could complicate the diplomatic activities of Vice President Biden in Ukraine.
“I had no role in any investigation into Burisma or any of its officials,” Hunter Biden said the other day. “I have clearly limited my role by focusing on good corporate governance practices to help support Burisma's commitment to global expansion.”
Hunter Biden, who left the board of directors of Burisma in April, was one of many politically visible Americans who have made money in Ukraine over the last ten years. In several cases (especially former head of the election campaign of Trump Paul Manafort) such a business has undergone a criminal investigation, which has revealed the dubious side of the work of Western consulting companies in Ukraine.
The New York Times notes that Trump and his allies actively paid attention to the revealed circumstances of Hunter Biden's activities in Ukraine. They made public and even encouraged this and other investigations related to Ukraine. According to the publication, this underlines the concern of Trump’s associates about the electoral threat posed by Biden’s presidential campaign.
The efforts of the Trump team to draw attention to the work of Biden in Ukraine were partially led by Rudolph Giuliani, who was Trump's lawyer during the investigation of Special Prosecutor Robert Muller. Giuliani’s participation raises the question of whether Trump supports an attempt to push the Ukrainian government to consider a case that could harm his opponent in the United States.
Giuliani discussed the investigation into the case of Burisma and his connection with Biden with the dismissed Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin and the current Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko. This year, he has repeatedly met with Yury Lutsenko in New York. The latter told colleagues that during one of the meetings, Giuliani enthusiastically called Trump to inform him of his findings.
Giuliani denies that such a call was, but confirms that he has repeatedly discussed this issue with the Trump. The latter, in turn, recently said that he would like Attorney General William Barr to look at evidence collected by Ukrainian prosecutors. Giuliani also repeatedly called the Department of Justice to study the work of Biden in Ukraine and other relations between Ukraine and the United States.
Giuliani also said that he had begun to address this issue, trying to provide Muller with evidence that the Democrats had colluded with Ukrainians who sympathized with them in order to influence the results of the presidential elections.
“I can assure you that it all started with a statement about the possible involvement of Ukrainians in the investigation of Russian interference, not Biden,” Giuliani said. "The Biden part still needs to be studied, but without prejudice or conspiracy theories."
The decision to resume the investigation against Burisma was made in March by the current Prosecutor General of Ukraine and in some circles was viewed as an attempt by Yuriy Lutsenko to enlist the support of the Trump administration for his boss and ally, the current president of the country, Petro Poroshenko.
Poroshenko lost in the presidential election to Vladimir Zelensky, who immediately announced that he would replace Yuriy Lutsenko as prosecutor general. Zelensky did not say whether the prosecutor appointed by him would continue the investigation.
Deputy Lutsenko, prosecutor Konstantin Kulik, who led the investigation, told The New York Times that he was carefully studying the millions of dollars in payments that Burisma paid to Hunter Biden.
The publication notes: there is no evidence that the former vice-president deliberately tried to help his son, seeking the resignation of the prosecutor general. Moreover, some of his former associates said that Biden never did anything to deter other Obama administration officials, who insisted that the United States support the criminal investigations of the Ukrainian and British authorities (and may have launched their own investigation) in against Burisma and its owner, Nikolai Zlochevsky, for possible money laundering and abuse of official position.
The Biden campaign called the resumption of the Ukrainian investigation “politically motivated” and noted the participation of Giuliani, questioning the motives for such actions. Yury Lutsenko denied any political motivation in resuming the case.
Kate Bedingfield, a spokeswoman for the Biden campaign, said that the attempt of the former vice president in 2016 to overthrow the former attorney general Viktor Shokin was made “without regard to how this affects or will not affect the business interests of his son, a private citizen.” The efforts, she said, were in line with the “foreign policy of the United States to eradicate corruption in Ukraine” and were supported by the United States government, allies and multilateral institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Biden's son said that he “never discussed with his father the company's business or the services of the board of directors, including his initial decision to join the board.”
Hunter Biden, 49, is the middle of three children from Biden's first wife Neilia. His wife and youngest child were killed in a car accident in 1972. Hunter and his older brother Bo survived the accident, and Bo Biden began a career in government. He died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46.
After graduating from Yale Law School, Hunter Biden took on a number of roles that intersected his father’s political career, including working with a credit card issuer in the state of Delaware, working in the commercial department under President Bill Clinton and lobbying on behalf of various universities, associations and companies .
When his father was chosen as Barack Obama’s partner in 2008, Hunter Biden ceased his lobbying work, including renegade with his father's activities.
A few months after his father became vice president, Hunter Biden joined Christopher Heinz, stepson of then Senator John Kerry and friend of the Kerry family, Devon Archer, to create a network of investment and consulting firms with various variations of the name Rosemont Seneca. Kerry would later become US Secretary of State.
Biden and Archer did business with international organizations that were interested in American foreign policy decisions, sometimes in countries where ties meant political influence and protection.
Among the companies in which they worked was the gas company Burisma, owned by Nikolai Zlochevsky, who worked almost 4 for the year in the government of the now runaway President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, who resigned in 2014.
After Yanukovych's flight, Zlochevsky also fled the country, as Ukrainian prosecutors launched numerous investigations into his activities. The British bureau for combating fraud on a large scale froze London accounts associated with Zlochevsky, which held $ 23 million - a statement said that this money was associated with money laundering and corruption during the Yanukovych era (later the case was dropped due to the fact that the General Prosecutor's Office Ukraine, which at that time was headed by Shokin's predecessor, did not provide the necessary documents).
When Shokin became attorney general in February 2015, he “inherited” several investigations into Zlochevsky’s company, including on suspicion of tax evasion and money laundering. Shokin also launched an investigation into the granting of lucrative gas licenses to companies owned by Zlochevsky during his time as head of Ukraine's Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. Zlochevsky and Burisma have always challenged the charges against themselves.
There are serious debates among Ukrainian and American officials about whether Shokin intended to conduct a lawful investigation against Burisma or whether he simply used the threat of prosecution to take bribes, according to Zlochevsky’s lawyers.
Despite Shokin’s concerns, the case against Burisma was supported by the Obama administration at a high level. At the beginning of the same year, Archer and Hunter Biden became part of a whole wave of Americans who would come from across the Atlantic to help Burisma with its legal problems and image. Their support allowed Burisma to create the impression that the company was supported by influential Americans at a time when Ukraine was particularly dependent on the help and strategic support of the United States and its allies.
Archer first joined the board of directors of Burisma. At about the same time, the company began paying New York law firm Boies Schiller Flexner, where Hunter Biden worked. The firm that Biden left at the end of 2017 of the year refused to describe the nature of the work for Burisma. But financial data from the Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office show that the company paid 283 000 dollars to Boies Schiller in 2014.
Shortly after Archer joined the board of directors of Burisma, Hunter Biden followed him, despite the fact that comrades who had experience in Ukraine were warned to stay away from Zlochevsky.
In a press release, the company said that Hunter Biden "will be responsible for the legal department of the holding and provide support to the company among international organizations." Biden said the press release was inconsistent with his role at Burisma. “I have never been responsible for the legal issues of the company,” he said.
Among the Americans attracted by Hunter Biden’s US business partners to assist in the investigation was Blue Star Strategies, a consulting firm managed by veterans of the Clinton administration who did significant work in Ukraine. The Blue Star team and American lawyer John Buretta, who worked as a senior official in the Obama Department of Justice, held two meetings in Kiev with Lutsenko. Lutsenko himself denies the fact of meetings.
Lutsenko initially took a tough stance against Burisma. But during the 10 months after he took office, Burisma announced that Lutsenko and the courts had “completely closed” all the “trials” against Zlochevsky and his companies, and that the oligarch had been removed from the “wanted” list. Zlochevsky returned to the country.
Hunter Biden's work in Ukraine seems to have been well compensated, the newspaper notes. Burisma paid 3,4 a million dollars to Rosemont Seneca Bohai LLC from mid-April 2014, when Hunter Biden and Archer joined the board until the end of 2015, according to financial data provided by the Deputy Prosecutor of Ukraine. Payments continued after that.
Rosemont Seneca Bohai was controlled by Archer, who left the board of Burisma after being accused of deceiving pension funds and an Indian tribe for tens of millions of dollars. The bank records presented in this case show that the company paid Biden regularly up to 50 000 dollars in some months.
Amos Hochstein, who worked with Vice-President Biden on Ukraine’s issues as State Department Coordinator for International Energy Issues, said that supporting the persecution of the Zlochevsky Obama administration was contrary to all the speculation that the elder Biden was trying to overthrow Shokin to protect his son or Zlochevsky.
“I've been to almost every meeting that Vice President Biden has with President Poroshenko, I've been on every trip, and I've been on most of the phone calls. It was never about his son or Burisma, ”Hochstein said.
Earlier, Hunter Biden said that his term as director has expired and he leaves Burisma's board of directors in a political climate "where my qualifications and work are under attack from Rudi Giuliani and his people with obvious political goals."
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