Senate Republicans released a report Wednesday detailing the extensive business dealings that Hunter Biden pursued with politically connected foreign nationals while his father Joe Biden was serving as vice president.
The 87-page interim report is the product of a months-long probe in which members of the Senate Homeland Security and Finance Committees and their staff reviewed more than 45,000 pages of Obama administration records and interviewed eight witnesses, many of whom are current or former U.S. officials.
“The Treasury records acquired by the Chairmen show potential criminal activity relating to transactions among and between Hunter Biden, his family, and his associates with Ukrainian, Russian, Kazakh and Chinese nationals,” the report reads. “In particular, these documents show that Hunter Biden received millions of dollars from foreign sources as a result of business relationships that he built during the period when his father was vice president of the United States and after.”
That Hunter Biden served on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings while his father was leading the Obama administration’s efforts in Ukraine is well-established, but the $50,000-per-month board seat was just one component of the younger Biden’s foreign ventures during the Obama years. According to Treasury Department records obtained by the committee, he also pursued business dealings with politically-connected Russian, Chinese, and Kazakh nationals.
In the course of his globe-trotting business career, Hunter Biden racked up more than $4 million in “questionable financial transactions” with well-connected foreigners. He partnered with Chinese businessmen connected to the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army, he took cash from the wife of the corrupt former mayor of Moscow, and he sent funds to Ukrainian and Russian nationals living in the U.S. that are “linked to what ‘appears to be an Eastern European prostitution or human trafficking ring,’” according to the report.
But it was only Hunter’s work for Burisma that caught the attention of Obama administration State Department officials, who said the role created “counterintelligence and extortion concerns.”
Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, George Kent warned Vice President Joe Biden’s office in early 2015 that Hunter’s work for Burisma undermined the administrations’ anti-corruption efforts in the country, since the gas company’s owner Mykola Zlochevsky, who Kent described as an “odious oligarch” in his testimony, is famously corrupt.
“Furthermore, the presence of Hunter Biden on the Burisma board was very awkward for all U.S. officials pushing an anticorruption agenda in Ukraine,” Kent wrote in an email to his colleagues in 2016.
Kent told Joe Biden’s staff that “someone needed to talk to Hunter Biden, and he should [step] down from the board of Burisma,” according to the report. But it doesn’t appear Kent’s request was carried out, since Hunter remained on the board throughout the rest of Obama’s term.
U.S. Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein also raised concerns about Hunter’s work for Burisma with the vice president. But his complaints went unaddressed, according to the report.
“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’s executive summary stated.
While concerns over Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine didn’t prompt any decisive action from the administration, they did reach the desk of Secretary of State John Kerry, contradicting his later claim that he was never aware that Hunter served on the Burisma board.
The day after Hunter joined the Burisma board in May 2014, Kerry’s stepson Christopher Heinz, who was a business partner of Hunter’s, emailed his father to inform him of Hunter’s appointment to the board and to distance himself from the decision. Kerry’s staff followed up with a briefing on the press inquiries prompted by Hunter’s board seat, according to their testimony before the committees.
Neither Kerry nor anyone else in the administration appears to have intervened to put a stop to the younger Biden’s influence peddling.
When asked by a reporter in 2019 whether he had any knowledge of Hunter’s work for Burisma, Kerry responded “I had no knowledge about any of that. None. No.”
Hunter Biden and his business partner Devon Archer joined with Heinz in 2009 to form the investment firm Rosemont Seneca. They then spun off a number of shell companies to accept funds from wealthy and politically-connected clients willing to pay for their “corporate and governmental affairs” expertise.
One such client was Elena Baturina, wife of former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who was fired in 2010 by then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev over corruption allegations. Baturina became Russia’s first female billionaire after her plastics company received a number of lucrative public contracts with the city of Moscow while her husband was mayor.
“Luzhkov used his position as mayor to approve over 20 real estate projects that were built by a Baturina-owned construction company and ultimately generated multibillion-ruble profits for his family,” according to the report.
In February 2014, Baturina wired $3.5 million as part of a “consultancy agreement” to Rosemont Seneca Thornton LLC — a consortium consisting of Biden and Archer’s Rosemont Seneca and a Massachusetts-based company with offices in Beijing known as Thornton LLC.
Then, between May and December 2015 Baturina wired another $391,968.21 to an account linked to a company called BAK USA, a Buffalo, N.Y., based start up that manufactured tablet computers with the backing of unidentified Chinese investors. The majority of that nearly $400,000, totaling $241,797.14, flowed through the Rosemont Seneca Thornton account before arriving in the BAK USA account.
On April 22, 2014, as Joe Biden joined Prime Minister Arsemy Yasenyuk in Kyiv to speak with Ukrainian lawmakers about the recent Russian aggression in Crimea, a holding company owned by the son-in-law of a prominent Khazak politician wired Archer $142,300 through yet another shell company, Rosemont Seneca Bohai. A currency report obtained by the committee states that the payment was “For a Car.”
The holding company that purchased Archer a car is owned solely by Kenges Rakishev, the son-in-law of Imangali Tasmagambetov, who was then serving as the mayor of Kazakhstan’s capital city, Astana. Tasmagambetov, who himself previously served as prime minister of Kazakhstan, was reportedly a close confidant of then Kazahk president Nursultan Nazarbayev. It is unclear why, exactly, Archer was purchased a car, but Kazakhstan was in flux politically at the time due to dissension over how to respond to Russia’s provocation in Ukraine.
“Given Rakishev’s close connection to political leadership in Kazakhstan, the tense political situation, Hunter Biden’s longstanding relationship with Archer and involvement in transactions with Rosemont Seneca Bohai, and the fact that the payment was timed perfectly with Vice President Biden’s visit to Kyiv to discuss U.S. sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Crimea, the April 22, 2014 payment from Rakishev to Rosemont Seneca Bohai raises serious questions,” the report reads.
In order to sell their consulting services in China, Biden and Archer partnered with a Boston-based firm known as Thornton LLC. The firm advertises itself as “a cross-border capital intermediary” and counts a number of state-owned Chinese businesses among its clients, according to its website.
Through Thornton LLC, Hunter Biden and Archer formed business relationships with a number of wealth Chinese nationals who have connections the CCP and the People’s Liberation Army.
Many of Hunter Biden’s Chinese dealings flowed through Ye Jianming, the founder of CEFC China Energy Co. Ltd, a Chinese energy company that reported in excess of $33 billion in revenue in 2013. The company was acquired by the state in 2017 but even before that it “hired a number of former top officials from state owned energy companies” and had “layers of Communist Party committees across its subsidiaries — more than at many private Chinese companies,” according to Reuters.
Through Jianming’s company, Hunter Biden was introduced to the CCP elite and those businessmen who operate with their blessing.
Pictures from an April 2010 event in China posted by the Thornton Group show Biden standing alongside the general manager of the China Investment Corporation, the vice president of the China Life Asset Management Company, the general manager of the Postal Savings Bank, among other Chinese business tycoons.
Hunter Biden and Archer capitalized on those connections some two years later by partnering with Jonathan Li the CEO of the Chinese investment firm Bohai Capital, to form BHR, an investment firm specializing in connecting wealthy Chinese investors, and state entities, with overseas business opportunities. The Chinese government’s postal savings bank, its main development bank, and The Bank of China all invested in BHR. Months before the investors signed the documents committing to the fund, Hunter arranged for his father to meet Li briefly in the lobby of a Beijing hotel they were staying in after flying to China on Air Force II.
Hunter initially joined the BHR board in an unsalaried capacity but ultimately acquired a 10 percent stake in the company in 2017.
Ye’s relationships were not confined to China’s business elite, he also had extensive connections to high-ranking members of the People’s Liberation Army, including one of the country’s leading propagandists, Wang Shu, the CEO of the China Huayi Broadcasting. While Ye was rubbing shoulders with Beijing’s elite, Hunter was busy trying to solicit American investment in his firm.
A subsidiary of Ye’s company wired $100,000 to Biden’s law firm, Owasco, in August 2017. And, one month later, on the day that Ye’s firm announced it would acquire a $9.1 billion deal in the Russian oil company Rosneft, Hunter filed for a $100,000 line of credit with one of Ye’s business partners. Hunter, his uncle James, and James’s wife Sarah were all authorized as credit card users on the account. The foursome went on a spending spree, buying airline tickets, stays at expensive hotels, and meals at top restaurants.
Ye’s company would eventually funnel $4.8 million to Biden’s law firm over the following year.
Joe Biden’s spokesman, Andrew Bates, suggested the entire investigation was a partisan distraction in response to the report.
“As the coronavirus death toll climbs and Wisconsinites struggle with joblessness, Ron Johnson has wasted months diverting the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee away from any oversight of the catastrophically botched federal response to the pandemic, a threat Sen. Johnson has dismissed by saying that ‘death is an unavoidable part of life.’ Why? To subsidize a foreign attack against the sovereignty of our elections with taxpayer dollars — an attack founded on a long-disproven, hardcore rightwing conspiracy theory that hinges on Sen. Johnson himself being corrupt and that the Senator has now explicitly stated he is attempting to exploit to bail out Donald Trump’s re-election campaign,” Bates said in a statement Wednesday.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney expressed a similar sentiment before the report came out, calling the investigation a “political exercise” that fell outside the “legitimate role of government.”
Homeland Security Committee chairman Ron Johnson, (R., Wis.), and Finance Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, (R., Iowa), said they “faced many obstacles” in their probe and added that “there remains much work to be done.”
Editor’s Note: This is a developing story and will be updated.