geopolitics-00677
Hunter BidenPaul Morigi/Getty Images for World Food Program USA

Former President Barack Obama’s administration ignored “glaring warning signs” when then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son joined the board of a Ukrainian energy company owned by a corrupt oligarch, according to a report released by Republican senators on Wednesday.

Hunter Biden’s position with the Burisma natural-gas firm — which paid him “as much as $50,000 per month” — “created an immediate potential conflict of interest” because his dad, now President Trump’s Democratic opponent in the Nov. 3 election, was involved in US policy toward Ukraine, the report says.

The report, released by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), also says the younger Biden’s job “was problematic and did interfere in the efficient execution of policy with respect to Ukraine.”

“Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board negatively impacted the efforts of dedicated career service individuals who were fighting to push for anticorruption measures in Ukraine,” the report says.

The 87-page report notes that two American officials — George Kent, former acting deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Kyiv, and senior State Department official Amos Hochstein — “raised concerns” to Biden’s staff and directly to Biden, respectively.

“Despite the efforts of these individuals, their concerns appear to have fallen on deaf ears,” the report says.

“Moreover, this investigation has illustrated the extent to which officials within the Obama administration ignored the glaring warning signs when the vice president’s son joined the board of a company owned by a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch.”

The report notes that Joe Biden’s staff advised him not to publicly accuse Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky of corruption, even though he allegedly paid a $7 million bribe to avoid prosecution and former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland “testified that confronting oligarchs would send an anticorruption message in Ukraine.”

“Biden’s unwillingness to confront a man whom State [Department] officials considered to be an ‘odious oligarch’ demonstrated a lack of leadership, but also raises a serious question about why Vice President Biden would avoid linking Zlochevsky with corruption,” the report says.

The report — which relies in part on information contained in 14 “confidential” reports — alleges that Hunter Biden and other Biden family members “cashed in” on Joe Biden’s vice presidency through a “vast financial network that connected them to foreign nationals and foreign governments across the globe.”

In addition to his Burisma board seat, the report says, Hunter Biden profited from a “financial relationship” that he and associate Devon Archer had with Russia’s richest woman, Elena Baturina, former wife of the late Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov.

In 2014, Baturina wired $3.5 million to a bank account held by Rosemont Seneca Thornton, an investment firm co-founded by Hunter Biden, the report says.

Baturina also sent 11 wires totaling more than $390,000 to a company called BAK USA LLC, with nine transactions — amounting to about $240,000 — transferred through a Rosemont Seneca Thornton account, the report says.

BAK USA was a start-up, computer tablet manufacturing company in Buffalo that Gov. Cuomo repeatedly touted as a “success” for his “START-UP NY” development program before the company abruptly shut down in 2018, filing for bankruptcy protection the following year.

The report alleges that Hunter Biden also had “business associations” with “Chinese nationals linked to the Communist government and the People’s Liberation Army,” including energy tycoon Ye Jianming, who was jailed in 2018 on suspicions of bribery, and Ye’s associate Gongwen Dong.

“Those associations resulted in millions of dollars in cash flow,” the report says, adding that Hunter Biden and Gongwen “opened a bank account…to fund a $100,000 global spending spree with [Joe Biden’s brother] James Biden and [James’ wife] Sara Biden.”

The report notes that its findings are based on “documents and testimony from US agencies and officials, not a Russian disinformation campaign as our Democratic colleagues have falsely stated.”

It also accuses John Kerry of having “falsely claimed” to reporters last year that he didn’t know Hunter Biden had been named to the Burisma board when Kerry was secretary of state under Obama.

“I had no knowledge about any of that. None. No,” Kerry said, according to an account posted on Twitter at the time.

The report cites an email sent to Kerry’s chief of staff on May 13, 2014 — one day after Hunter Biden joined the Burisma board — by Kerry’s stepson, Chris Heinz, to inform him of the development.

Heinz, who was Hunter Biden’s business partner, also wanted to “distance himself” from the decision, according to the report.

“Moreover, in May 2014, Secretary Kerry’s chief of staff, David Wade, briefed him about press inquiries specifically relating to Heinz, Hunter Biden, and Burisma,” the report says.

Earlier this week, Biden’s campaign said the Senate Republicans’ probe was based on “a long-disproven, hard-core right-wing conspiracy theory” and a spokesman on Wednesday accused Johnson of “diverting” attention from Trump’s “catastrophically botched” handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a competing report, Senate Democrats also accused Johnson of having “repeatedly impugned Vice President Biden in public on the basis of secret evidence he claimed to have obtained.”

“Contrary to his public insinuations, the Chairmen’s investigation found no evidence that the former vice president did anything wrong in his efforts to carry out official U.S foreign policy in Ukraine,” the Democrats added.

A Kerry spokesman didn’t deny the report’s allegations about his remarks but said Kerry “thinks this is a fraudulent issue aimed at distracting from the fact that Donald Trump is so afraid of Joe Biden that he went and got himself impeached.”

Source: New York Post, September 23rd, 2020