BIDEN FACES RENEWED SCRUTINY OVER SON’S RELATIONSHIP TO UKRAINIAN GAS COMPANY

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by Nick Givas, The Daily Caller:

  • Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of directors of a Ukranian company as part of an effort to recruit well-connected Americans while the company was under investigation, according to The New York Times.
  • Then-Vice President Joe Biden played a role in pressuring Ukraine to oust the country’s top prosector, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating the company, Burisma.
  • Shokin’s successor initially ended the investigation into Burisma, but decided in March 2019 to reopen it.

A Ukrainian gas company gave a seat on its board to the son of former Vice President Joe Biden in an attempt to secure relationships with Democrats while it was under multiple investigations, according to a recent New York Times report.

Biden largely took credit for pressuring Ukraine into removing its top prosecutor, who was leading those probes. Ukraine recently relaunched an investigation into the company, the Times reported Wednesday, and President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has repeatedly called for the U.S. Department of Justice to scrutinize the Bidens.

Hunter Biden was appointed to the four-member board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest privately owned gas company, in April 2014. The seat came while the elder Biden was serving in former President Barack Obama’s administration and was slated to head relations with Ukraine for the administration.

Burisma is a natural gas exploration and production company owned by Mykola Zlochevsky, a cabinet member of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich. Yanukovich was removed from his position in February 2014. He currently lives in exile in Russia and is wanted by Ukraine for high treason.

Zlochevsky later fled the country in late-2014 as Ukrainian prosecutors launched investigations into his time in public office as well as his private businesses. Around the same time, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office froze $23 million in a London account that was linked to Zlochevsky. A British court later unblocked the bank accounts in January 2015 and “found no grounds for further consideration of the case,” according to The Kyiv Post.

Roughly two years after Hunter Biden’s appointment to Burisma’s board, the vice president traveled to Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, where he threatened that the U.S. would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees unless Ukraine ousted its prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin. At the time, Shokin was accused of ignoring corruption within his own political office.

But Shokin was also investigating corruption within Burisma.

Several investigations into Burisma, which included possible tax evasion and money laundering, preceded Shokin’s time as prosecutor general. But he also launched a separate investigation into gas licenses that Zlochevsky issued while serving in his official capacity in the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, according to the Times. Shokin was fired from the prosecutorial position days after Biden’s arrival and subsequent pressure campaign in Kiev.

U.S. officials reportedly stated that the British prosecution crumbled after Shokin stepped down and the succeeding Ukrainian prosecutor general declined to cooperate. (RELATED: Tensions Grow Between Obama Admin, Ukraine)

Hunter Biden, who did not previously have any experience in the eastern European country, was paid up to $50,000 per month for his work with Burisma, according to financial disclosures. Only months before he accepted the position as a board member, the Navy Reserve had discharged him after failing a drug test, which tested positive for cocaine.

“I have had no role whatsoever in relation to any investigation of Burisma, or any of its officers,” Hunter Biden told the Times. “I explicitly limited my role to focus on corporate governance best practices to facilitate Burisma’s desire to expand globally.”

But he was appointed to Burisma’s board to “be in charge of the holdings’ legal unit and will provide support for the company among international organizations,” a press release obtained by the Times said.

Hunter Biden said Burisma’s release was a mischaracterization, saying that “at no time was [he] in charge of the company’s legal affairs.”

“At no time have I discussed with my father the company’s business, or my board service, including my initial decision to join the board,” Hunter Biden’s statement to the Times continued.

Joe Biden’s role with Ukraine has been well documented, but a new report detailed Burisma’s endeavor to onboard “well-connected Democrats” such as Hunter Biden and his American business partners, reported the Times. At the time, the company was under investigation not just by the Ukrainian government, but by the U.S. government as well.

Ukraine’s prosecutor general who replace Shokin, Yuriy Lutsenko, decided in March 2019 to reopen the investigation into Burisma, The Hill first confirmed. Lutsenko also happened to be the same prosecutor who had previously cleared Hunter Biden’s employer and fully closed the investigation.

The move was revealed during the country’s 2019 election and was largely seen as a strategic attempt for President Petro Poroshenko to become an ally of Trump, reported the Times. But Poroshenko ultimately lost re-election by an overwhelming vote.

Weeks after Lutsenko’s announcement to relaunch a probe into Burisma, Biden declared that he would seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. Hunter Biden stepped down from the board that same month.

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