Commentary: Hunter Biden’s Millions

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by Christopher Gage

 

Last year Joe Biden made it crystal clear that his son Hunter’s myriad business dealings were not a topic of conversation between father and son.

When Peter Doocy, a Fox News reporter, asked the former vice president about Hunter’s business deals, the elder Biden replied: “I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.”

He continued: “I know Trump deserves to be investigated. He is violating every basic norm of a president. You should be asking him why he is on the phone with a foreign leader, trying to intimidate a foreign leader. You should be looking at Trump.”

Yet, a report released by Senate Republicans on Wednesday detailed the web of foreign business entanglements threaded by Hunter Biden, connecting the former vice president’s son with oligarchs and politically connected Russians, Ukrainians, Chinese, and Kazakhs, all while his father served as Barack Obama’s point man on foreign policy.

Despite Joe Biden’s insistence he has never discussed with Hunter his business dealings, testimony from Amos Hochstein, a former Obama State Department official, states otherwise.

Hochstein, on page 17 of the 87-page report, says he addressed his “concerns” regarding Hunter’s board connection to the controversial Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, a job which netted Hunter up to $50,000 a month for “consultancy” services.

It reads: “Shortly after his conversation with Vice President Biden, Hunter Biden contacted Hochstein and asked to meet. According to Hochstein, Hunter became aware of Hochstein’s West Wing conversation with the Vice President, who had mentioned it to Hunter.”

So, the report says Joe Biden was briefed on the U.S. government’s concerns with Hunter’s Burisma connection. And that he “mentioned” this topic to his son. Yet the Democratic presidential nominee insisted last year he has never spoken to his son about his overseas business dealings.

Hochstein testified that he “raised concerns” in October 2015 to Biden’s staff, and Biden specifically. George Kent, former acting deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, did the same. Both concerns, the report says, “fell on deaf ears.”

After Burisma’s oligarch owner Mykola Zlochevsky was accused of offering a $6 million bribe to avoid prosecution, the report says Biden’s staff advised Hochstein to not publicly accuse Zlochevsky of corruption, despite the state department terming Zlochevsky an “odious oligarch.”

Hunter Biden’s involvement with Burisma “created an immediate potential conflict of interest” given his father was closely involved with the Obama Administration’s Ukraine policy.

The report continues: “Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board negatively impacted the efforts of dedicated career service individuals who were fighting to push for anti-corruption measures in Ukraine.”

Hunter’s Burisma links were brushed off by former Secretary of State John Kerry. On December 8, Kerry said in New Hampshire he “had no knowledge about any of that. None. No.”

Yet, the Senate report says that on May 13, 2014, Chris Heinz, Kerry’s stepson and Hunter’s business partner, emailed Kerry’s chief-of-staff David Wade with news of the development. This was one day after Hunter took the position on Burisma’s board.

Wade also briefed Kerry that month regarding press inquiries on Heinz, Hunter, and Burisma.

Kerry received news articles with headlines such as “Biden’s son joins Ukrainian gas company’s board.” “Biden’s son joins Ukrainian gas producer board” and “White House says no issue with Biden’s son, Ukraine gas company.”

When approached, a Kerry spokesperson dismissed the topic as a “fraudulent issue” to distract from President Trump’s “fear” of Joe Biden.

Hunter Biden’s dealings stretch far beyond those of Burisma, connecting with financial figures with strong ties to foreign governments.

In 2014, Elena Baturina, Russia’s richest woman, wired $3.5 million to a bank account held by Rosemont Seneca Thornton, an investment firm Hunter Biden co-founded.

A Wikileaks cable published in 2010 revealed that contacts to the U.S. embassy in Moscow stated Baturina “definitely has links to the criminal world, and particularly to the Solntsevo criminal group (widely regarded by Russian law enforcement as one of the most powerful organized crime groups in Russia).”

Baturina, the former wife of late Moscow mayor Yuri Luzkhov, wired 11 more transactions totaling $390,000 to another Hunter-linked firm. Nine of those wires, totaling $240,000, wormed their way through the Rosemont Seneca Thornton account.

The Senate report paints a web of financial connections between Hunter Biden and oligarchs with strong political connections in countries with histories of shady dealings between government and well-connected oligarchs.

These links made Hunter Biden a great deal of money. Such “business associations,” the report says, included ties with China.

One link is Ye Jianming, a Chinese energy tycoon jailed in 2018 on bribery charges. Hunter is also linked with Jianming’s associate Gongwen Dong. Both are said to be Chinese nationals with links not only to the Chinese Communist government, but also the People’s Liberation Army.

Hunter Biden added some $4 million in “questionable transactions” between “politically-connected Russian, Chinese, and Kazakh nationals,” to the $3.5 million he took from Putin-linked Baturina in “consultancy” payments.

It appears Hunter Biden’s lucrative associations led to Hunter and Gongwen opening up a bank account through which they funneled $100,000 to finance a “global spending spree” connected also to his brother James Biden, and James’ wife Sara Biden.

The spree didn’t stop there. Hunter Biden also allegedly sent thousands of dollars to figures seemingly involved in prostitution, human trafficking, and the adult entertainment industry.

Hunter Biden “sent funds to non-resident alien women” residing in the United States, per the report. These women, citizens of Russia and Ukraine, then wired funds from Hunter Biden to “individuals in Russia and Ukraine.”

Some of these transactions “appear to be [with] an Eastern European prostitution or human trafficking ring.”

It reads: “They do confirm that Hunter Biden sent thousands of dollars to individuals who have either: 1) been involved in transactions consistent with possible human trafficking; 2) an association with the adult entertainment industry; or 3) potential association with prostitution.”

While his father served as vice president, Hunter Biden gallivanted across 29 countries, making 411 trips, according to newly released Secret Service travel records.

Many of these trips appear to concern business meetings he and his associates had either confirmed or were attempting to arrange with foreign governments and oligarchs.

The Biden campaign dismissed the Senate report as a Republican attempt to damage President Trump’s opponent.

Last week, Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) decried the investigation as a “political exercise” before adding: “It is not the legitimate role of government, for Congress or for taxpayer expense, to be used in an effort to damage political opponents.”

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Christopher Gage is a British political journalist.
Photos “Burisma” by Bella Bellini CC BY-SA 4.0 and “Hunter Biden” by Burisma Group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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