How The Bidens Aided Ukrainian Corruption
During the time Joe Biden was US point man in Ukraine, and his son Hunter and Hunter’s business partner, Devon Archer, were on the payroll of the Ukrainian oil and gas company, Burisma, there were three Ukrainian Prosecutors General. The first, Vitaly Yerema and the third, Yuriy Lutsenko, actively helped Burisma escape responsibility for the theft of Ukraine’s oil and gas assets but Biden did not speak out against them and made no effort to force them from office.
Only one, Viktor Shokin, pursued Burisma and its owner Mykola Zlochevsky. Shokin put seizures on their assets and issued a warrant for Zlochevsky’s arrest should he return to Ukraine. Yet Shokin, not Yerema and not Lutsenko, was the one Prosecutor General that Biden called out and forced from office. In fact, I am aware of no other instance in which the United States demanded the firing of a prosecutor in a country to which we supplied foreign aid, no matter how corrupt. If not unprecedented, what Biden did in Ukraine was at least extraordinary.
At the outset of our Ukraine intervention, it was US policy for Ukraine to recover oil and gas assets believed to have been stolen from the Ukrainian people by Zlochevsky when he was the Ukrainian Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources between 2010 and 2012.
As a result, Zlochevsky hired a politically connected DC firm, Star Strategies, to lobby the US State Department to change this policy. Shortly after Biden became US point man, in February 2014, Zlochevsky hired Hunter Biden and his partner Devon Archer as Burisma Board members at up to $160,000 per month, ostensibly to advise on corporate governance. Neither was required to go to Ukraine to attend board meetings. Neither were experts in corporate governance. And Burisma, a privately-owned company, had little need for corporate governance advice. Had it had such a need and had Hunter and Archer actually been corporate governance experts, this was a truly astonishing price to pay for such services.
Bear in mind, it is possible to provide a financial inducement to a public official to alter his conduct in one’s favor through money provided to his offspring. And it has been done in many places many times. Sometimes the official shares in the bounty directly, something suggested by the emails recently found on Hunter Biden’s laptop. All this strongly suggests a cover up.
The reality was that Hunter and Archer were obviously close to Hunter’s father Joe Biden and they were also close to Secretary of State John Kerry, a close ally of the Bidens. They immediately began lobbying the State Department higher-ups including meetings with Kerry. There are documents that support this. And Zlochevsky made a large contribution to a Delaware charity in the name of Biden’s deceased son, Beau. Archer also held a $10,000 a plate fundraiser for Kerry’s daughter.
People at the State Department urged Biden to address the obvious conflict of interest arising from Hunter’s activities. But Biden did nothing. In fact, Hunter has said publicly in a TV interview that he discussed this engagement with his father before he began with Burisma.
In mid April 2014, the UK froze $23 million of Zlochevsky’s assets. In January 2015, the UK released these assets because, in the intervening 10 months, the Ukrainian prosecutors office, then under Prosecutor General Yerema, refused to provide evidence to support the UK seizure and in fact worked with Zlochevsky’s attorneys to free the assets. Far from calling out Yerema or demanding his termination, Biden issued anodyne statement through a spokesman: “Hunter Biden is a private citizen and a lawyer. The vice president has no involvement with this company and does not endorse any particular company. He said not a word about Yerema’s misconduct." Nonetheless, on February 10, 2015, the Ukrainian government fired Prosecutor General Yerema after concluding he had received a $7 million bribe from Burisma.
Yerema was replaced by Viktor Shokin. Shokin soon initiated an investigation of Zlochevsky and Burisma and issued an arrest warrant on Zlochevsky. Subsequently, the New York Times published an article on Shokin’s Burisma investigation and pointed out that Hunter’s Burisma involvement was undercutting the US anti-corruption efforts.
In mid-January 2016, the Obama White House demanded a meeting with representatives of Ukraine Prosecutor General’s office to discuss Zlochevsky and Burisma among other things. But Shokin’s investigation continued. And on February 14, Shokin placed attachments on Ukraine assets of Zlochevsky and Burisma.
At that point, the US State Department’s Victoria Nuland, for the first time, publicly called for Shokin’s dismissal claiming he was not prosecuting corruption. Biden himself has publicly stated that he demanded Shokin’s firing. Ukraine’s President Poroshenko resisted saying Shokin had done nothing wrong. According to Biden, he told Poreshenko that Ukraine would not get promised US aid if he did not fire Shokin.
Shokin has filed a sworn statement saying that he was told that the only way he could keep his job was if he dropped the investigation of Zlochevsky and Burisma. And Shokin has since filed a lawsuit in Ukraine over his firing, naming Biden as a defendant.
Shokin was succeeded by Yuriy Lutsenko. Like Yarema Lutsenko was also charged with corruption. Lutsenko ultimately settled with Zlochevsky and Burisma without recovering any of the stolen assets. There was no reported criticism of Lutsenko’s actions by Biden or the US government. And, after Biden left office, the investigations of Zlochevsky and Burisma were re-opened under the new Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky.
Several things seem obvious. First, the US policy towards Zlochevsky and Burisma changed and it wasn’t a result of Zlochevsky’s proving his innocence. Second, Hunter and Archer were hired at a very high price to use their political influence to obtain this policy change. And third, Biden demanded the firing of the only one of the three Ukrainian Prosecutors General who had done anything to stand in the way.
Joe Biden and his supporters have claimed that Shokin was fired as a result of his corruption and that the firing was NATO policy. This has been widely promoted by the mainstream media without citing a single piece of evidence. I have found no public pronouncement by NATO confirming Joe Biden’s contention. In any case, the US was acting for NATO in Ukraine and was the driver of NATO policy there. And if it was our policy and the policy of NATO, why was this policy only directed at Shokin?
Title and first paragraph revised 10/23/20