Category: Mike Scruggs' Column

The Profitability of Political Influence

Hunter Biden in 2013, son of VP Joe Biden.
Hunter Biden in 2013, son of VP Joe Biden.

On September 23, the Republican dominated Senate committees on Homeland Security and Finance released an 87-page interim report revealing huge foreign transfers of cash to Hunter Biden and other members of the Biden family. These occurred while Joe Biden was Vice President of the United States and strongly suggests the misuse of political influence for personal profit in conflict with common ethical standards, American national interests, and even national security.

“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, 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.”

Senator Ron Johnson (R, WI) is head of the Homeland Security Committee and Senator Charles Grassley (R, IA) is head of the Finance Committee.  The transactions by Hunter Biden and other family members with foreign nationals raise ethical and legal questions strong enough for Senator Rand Paul (R, KY) to refer them to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation.  Ranking Democrats on the committees opposed preparation and release of the report. Senator Mitch Romney (R, UT) basically agreed, calling the investigation a “political exercise” that fell outside the “legitimate role of government.”

Peter Schweizer’s new book, Profiles in Corruption, dedicates a 43-page chapter to Joe Biden and his family. The Biden family’s self-enrichment scheme through political influence includes Joe’s son Hunter, daughter Ashley, sister Valerie, and brothers, James and Frank. Schweizer includes in his chapter the facts of Hunter’s $83,000 per month salary from the famously corrupt Ukrainian oil and natural gas company Burisma. In 2016, Joe Biden directly interfered in the investigation of Burisma by threatening to withhold $1.0 billion in U.S assistance to Ukraine unless the Prosecutor General, Viktor Shokin,   investigating Burisma was fired.  Because of Ukraine’s desperate need for assistance and Biden’s threat, Shokin was fired.  Joe Biden later even bragged about this on network television. The Senate committees found that Hunter Biden, his family, and business partner Devon Archer received over 4.0 million from Burisma connected with the “advice” of Hunter Biden and Archer as Burisma board members.  Schweizer’s book covers more detail on such consulting activities both domestic and foreign by Joe’s brother, James, and other family members.

In 2015 and 2016, two high ranking State Department officials in Kiev, George Kent and Amos Hochstein, had warned that the presence of Hunter Biden on the board of Burisma was very awkward for U.S. officials pursuing an anti-corruption agenda in Ukraine. While Biden was on the board, the owner of Burisma, Mykola Zlochevsky, allegedly offered a $7.0 million bribe in December 2014 to derail the investigation of Zlochevsky and the company by Ukrainian Prosecutor General, VitalyYarema. Hochstein met with Joe Biden and State Department officials in Washington to warn them of the situation, but the Obama Administration, including Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry did nothing.  Kerry later denied knowing anything about the situation.

Yarema was replaced by Viktor Shokin in February 2015. In April, Shokin announced that records on the Burisma and other investigations had disappeared, and he began gathering new evidence against Zlochevsky and his associates. This resulted in an international smear campaign against Shokin and even an assassination attempt.  The smear campaign was an enabling factor in Joe Biden’s success in getting Shokin fired, which of course, prevented Hunter Biden and Devon Archer from facing investigative scrutiny or losing their Burisma salaries and consulting income.

Hunter Biden began developing associations with Chinese nationals beginning in at least 2009, the year he co-founded the U.S. investment and advisory firm Rosemont Seneca Partners. According to the report, these financial connections “accelerated while his father was vice president and continued after he left office.” According to Schweizer, On December 3, 2013, Hunter Biden accompanied his father, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, on a trip to Beijing on Air Force II. Ten days later, he had Chinese Government contracts for $1.0 billion that quickly expanded to $1.5 billion and now may be as high as $2.0 billion.  According to the Senate report, the net income to Biden’s company must be in the millions. Some portion of this may be in increased investment equities.

In order to sell their consulting services in China, Hunter Biden and his business partners, Devon Archer, and Chris Heinz, the stepson of former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, partnered with a Boston-based firm known as Thornton LLC, advertising as “a cross-border capital intermediary.” Thornton LLC had significant contacts in the People’s Republic of China. This allowed them to form relationships with wealthy Chinese business and government officials with key connections in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chinese Army.  Many of Hunter Biden’s Chinese dealings flowed through Ye Jianming, the founder of CEFC China Energy Co. Ltd, a Chinese energy company with more than $33 billion annual revenue. Ye often did business through his partner, Asian financier Dong Gongwen.

In 2012, Hunter Biden and Devon Archer capitalized on those connections and their connection to Vice President Joe Biden 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. By 2017, Hunter Biden had 10 percent ownership of BHR. BHR is actually a partnership with the Chinese government and Chinese government owned financial institutions. 

Hunter Biden’s relationship with Ye, however, was the most important. Besides his energy company, Le had extensive connections to high-ranking Chinese Army officials and one of the country’s leading propagandists, Wang Shu, the CEO of China Huayi Broadcasting.  Through Ye, Hunter Biden developed an inside relationship with Beijing’s elite and solicited investments in his investment advisory company.  

In August 2017, a Ye subsidiary company sent $100,000 to Hunter Biden’s law firm, Owasco.  One  month later, Ye’s firm announced it would acquire a $9.1 billion stake in the Russian oil company Rosneft,  The same day, Ye’s business partners issued a credit card with a $100,000 line of credit, which Hunter Biden, his uncle James,  and James’s wife Sarah were all authorized to use.   The three went on a spending spree, buying airline tickets, staying at expensive hotels, and paying for meals at top restaurants.

During 2018, Ye’s company funneled a total of $4.8 million to Biden’s law firm.

On February 14, 2014, Hunter Biden’s firm received $3.5 million by wire from a German company owned by Russian billionaire Elena Baturina, the widow of the former Mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov. The accompanying paperwork indicated it was for “Consultancy Agreement. “ Baturina made her fortune through Moscow construction projects authorized by her late husband, who was eventually fired by Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010.   She also owns a large plastic manufacturing company. The German company, Hightex, had in early 2014 just won a contract to build a large part of the Canopy for Peace for the New Orleans World War II Museum. The museum denies any departure from standard bidding procedure. As of August, the project was eight months behind, and only half of the materials promised had been received.  These have been promised for October.

On April 22, 2014, the same day Joe Biden was meeting with Kazakhstan President Arsemy Yasenyuk in Kiev, Ukraine, both Hunter Biden and Devon Archer were wired $142,300 each from a Kazakh oligarch operating through a Biden related shell company. Archer’s money was supposedly “for a car.”

The Senate report also found that Hunter Biden paid non-resident women who were nationals of Russia and other Eastern countries and who appeared to be linked to an Eastern European prostitution and human trafficking ring.

My conclusion is that all this corruption may only be the tip of the iceberg of Obama-Clinton- Biden pay for play and corrupt consulting schemes. It reveals a tragic lack of ethical principle and sense of moral responsibility. What thoughtful and patriotic American cannot fear for the fate of their country, if their like is returned to office in 2021?  The fate of our country does hang in the balance, and we must not fail to save it from moral and economic devastation or compromised national security or allow freedom to perish.

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