Biden Knew Oligarch was Corrupt


In the first documents of their kind showing that the Obama U.S. Justice Department played a role in the 2014 asset forfeiture brought against a Ukrainian oligarch in the United Kingdom bout the time Hunter Biden was hired on Burisma’s board, the newly released diplomatic emails also show that Vice President Joe Biden’s office was warned that Mikola Zlochevsky was corrupt.

Geoffrey Pyatt, then-U.S. ambassador in Kiev, warned Biden’s advisers about the illegal activities of Zlochevsky, the founder of Burisma Holdings. The advisory came shortly before Joe Biden’s visit to Ukraine in December 2015, where he admitted strong-arming that government to get rid of a certain prosecutor.

“I assume all have the DoJ background on Zlochevsky,” said the 2015 email from Pyatt.

The email detailed how the U.S. and the UK were cooperating on a case to seize Zlochevsky overseas assets, which had passed through the U.S. The emails also indicated the forfeiture wasn’t completed because individuals in the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office “acted to thwart the UK case.”

By the time Pyatt had written the email, one of his deputies, George Kent, had already alerted the FBI that State officials believed Ukrainian prosecutors had been paid a $7 million bribe to thwart the asset forfeiture case. Kent recounted his efforts in an email to a fellow ambassador a year later.

Pyatt’s message, dated Dec. 6, 2015, went to Kate Bedingfield, who then was Biden’s communications chief. Bedingfield has been chosen as the White House communications chief when Biden assumes the presidency Jan. 20.

Pyatt’s successor, Marie Yovanovitch, told state department officials that U.S. Embassy believed Burisma paid another bribe to get Ukrainian prosecutors to drop remaining cases against the company. Both she and Kent have testified to the Senate that Burisma’s hiring of Hunter Biden’s created an apparent conflict of interest that undermined U.S. efforts to fight corruption in Ukraine.

Kent testified how in 2016 he had to block an effort by Burisma to try to participate in a USAID clean energy project in Ukraine because of the corruption concerns. His emails also show that he twice reported that Burisma was suspected of paying bribes and that the Biden’s dealings were making things difficult for U.S. diplomats in Kiev.

Kent also testified how in 2016 he had to block an effort by Burisma to try to participate in a USAID clean energy project in Ukraine because of the corruption concerns. His emails also show that he twice reported that Burisma was suspected of paying bribes and that the Biden’s dealings were interfering with the investigation.

Pyatt was recently deposed by investigators for the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee about the Ukraine controversy. Though his staff had reported an alleged Burisma bribe and believed the Biden’s conduct in Ukraine created an apparent conflict, Pyatt said he never felt compelled to raise such concerns with the vice president.

“So you never gave thought of raising a concern to the Vice President about this board position his son had?” a Senate investigator asked Pyatt during the deposition back in September.

“No,” the ambassador answered. “He’s the Vice President of the United States, and it would have been wildly out of place for me to raise something like that, especially insofar as it had zero impact on the work that I was doing.”

Pyatt had previously given a speech in 2015 in which he personally called out Ukrainian prosecutors for thwarting the UK asset forfeiture case against Zlochevsky. His December 2015 email was in response to talking points Biden’s staff had created in which they suggested the vice president avoid talking about Hunter Biden’s board position or singling out the oligarch.

“Have you asked Hunter to step down from the board? Has he discussed that with you?” the talking points asked.

“I’m not going to discuss private conversations with my family. Hunter is a private citizen and does independent work,” the memo recommended the vice president answer.

If pressed by a question asking whether Joe Biden thought “Zlochevsky is corrupt,” the talking points suggested the vice president respond, “I’m not going to get into naming names or accusing individuals.”

Other state officials have testified to the Senate recently that they believed Hunter Biden’s hiring as a Burisma board member around the same time Joe Biden took over U.S.-Ukraine policy created a conflict of interest that undercut U.S. efforts to fight corruption in the former Soviet republic.

Hunter Biden joined Burisma’s board shortly after President Barack Obama put Joe Biden in charge of Ukraine policy. The younger Biden received $83,000 a month, a total of about $3.1 million, for his service in an industry in which he had no experience.

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