In the first in a series of public hearings in which the Democratic opposition tried to show that President Donald Trump should be impeached for alleged misconduct, one of the key witnesses accidentally justified investigating Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president of the Obama administration Joe Biden, for corruption.
U.S. Undersecretary of State responsible for policies toward Ukraine George Kent, admitted in his statement that they urged the Ukrainian government to explain why they closed the investigation of Burisma Holdings, a powerful Eastern European oil and gas company that had Hunter Biden on its board of directors.
“The pervasive and long-standing problem of corruption in Ukraine included exposure to a situation involving the energy company Burisma,” Kent told the House Intelligence Committee.
“The primary concern of the U.S. government since 2014 was Burisma’s owner—Mykola Zlochevsky—whose frozen assets abroad we had attempted to recover on Ukraine’s behalf,” he continued.
“I raised questions with the deputy prosecutor general about why the investigation of Mr. Zlochevsky had been terminated, based on our belief that prosecutors had accepted bribes to close the case,” he added, reinforcing the arguments given by Republicans and President Trump himself, who suggest an investigation into whether Hunter’s father—then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden—influenced Ukrainian policies.
Kent said he “would love” for the Ukrainian government to reopen the investigation, with the aim of clarifying whether and to what extent bribes were made, making it clear that he and his colleagues thought that the former minister and former Ukrainian Deputy Secretary of Security Zlochevsky, “had stolen money.”
Conflict of interest
“Later, I became aware that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma. Soon after that, in a briefing call with the national security staff in the Office of the Vice President, in February 2015,” the U.S. diplomat added.
At that same meeting, “I raised my concern that Hunter Biden’s status as board member could create the perception of a conflict of interest,” he recalled.
Kent’s statements came after it became known that Hunter Biden’s U.S. firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, also received monthly transfers from Burisma, usually more than $166,000, according to The Hill.
The controversial transfers took place from the spring of 2014 to the fall of 2015, “during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia,” The Hill said.
It should be noted that Hunter Biden was elected to the board of the energy giant Burisma despite having no previous experience in Ukraine or in the energy industry, as explained investigator Peter Schweizer in his book “Secret Empires.”
“The bottom line is this needs to be investigated. What we know for a fact is in Ukraine and in China, the only two countries where Joe Biden was point-person on U.S. foreign policy, his son cashed in big time in both countries,” Schweizer told Fox News.
Frozen accounts and corruption allegations
The same month Hunter entered Burisma, the British government’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) froze a Zlochevsky account in London, arguing, “There were reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant [Zlochevsky] had engaged in criminal conduct in Ukraine,” reported The Guardian.
Zlochevsky’s dual position in Ukraine as a politician and businessman gave rise to “a clear inference” and “willful and dishonest exploitation,” denounced SFO investigator Richard Gould at a court hearing on April 14.
“The complicated pattern of offshore holding companies established when he was still a serving minister was effectively to conceal his beneficial ownership of Burisma,” he added.
Oleksandr Onyshchenko, a businessman and former member of the Ukrainian Parliament, said it was Zlochevsky’s idea to appoint Hunter Biden to the board, according to Reuters. “It was to protect (the company)” at a time when it was facing investigations, Onyshchenko said.