An Innocent Abroad 2 November 2019.

After graduating from Yale Law School in 1996, Hunter Biden[1] went to work for MBNA.  MBNA is a bank-holding company based in Wilmington Delaware.  It was reportedly a major contributor to the political campaigns of Joe Biden.  Within two years, Hunter Biden had become an executive vice president.  From 1998 to 2001, he worked for the Department of Commerce during the second Clinton administration.  From 2001 to 2009, he worked as a lobbyist, and served for two years on the board of Amtrak.  From 2009 to 2019, Hunter Biden was busy on several fronts.  He worked for the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner; he founded an investment firm with Christopher Heinz, the step-son of John Kerry; and he formed an investment firm focused on China (2013-2019).

In April 2014, Hunter Biden was recruited to a five year term on the board of Burisma Holdings, a major Ukrainian natural gas company.  The company is run by Mykola Zlochevsky.

It is fair to ask why Hunter Biden was invited to join the board.

In 2014, the prosecutor general for Ukraine began investigating Burisma.

It has been reported that Hunter Biden himself never was under investigation, let alone charged with anything.  Similarly, the investigations of Burisma were wound up after the payment of back taxes and penalties.

Nevertheless, then and later, Hunter Biden’s position raised eyebrows.  Reportedly, Christopher Heinz opposed his business partner joining the board because of the risk to their firm’s reputation.[2]  Biden went ahead.  Heinz then ended his business relationship with Biden.[3]

Others also questioned the decision.  In June 2014, the Associated Press wrote that “Hunter Biden’s employment means he will be working as a director and top lawyer for a Ukrainian energy company during the period when his father and others in the Obama administration attempt to influence the policies of Ukraine’s new government, especially on energy issues.”[4]

In December 2015, Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Action Center, told the Wall Street Journal that “If an investigator sees the son of the vice president of the United States is part of the management of a company … that investigator will be uncomfortable pushing the case forward.”

In late 2014, Mykola Zlochevsky hastily left Ukraine after it was alleged that he had illegally enriched himself during his time as Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources in 2010-2012.  In December 2017, the government’s investigation of Burisma ended with no charges filed against Zlochevsky.  In February 2018, he returned to Ukraine.

Did Burisma bring Hunter Biden on board not to entangle him personally in corrupt acts, but rather to put up a shield against prosecution by Zlochevsky’s Ukrainian enemies?

It would be useful to know what–if anything—the State Department, the Treasury Department, and the Central Intelligence Agencies reported on Hunter Biden’s time with Burisma.  Or, like Joe Biden and his son, did they also have a “don’t ask-don’t tell” relationship?

[1] See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter_Biden

[2] Paul Sonne, Michael Kranish, and Matt Viser, “The gas tycoon and the vice president’s son: The story of Hunter Biden’s foray into Ukraine,” The Washington Post, 28 September 2019.

[3] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7519043/Chris-Heinz-split-business-partner-Hunter-Biden-board-seat-Ukrainian-energy-company.html

[4] https://www.factcheck.org/2019/09/trump-twists-facts-on-biden-and-ukraine/

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