Reuters plays defense for Hunter Biden's Burisma caper

I found it hard to read this Reuters article without bursting out laughing.  Titled "What Hunter Biden did on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma," and written by no fewer than four correspondents, Polina Ivanova, Maria Tsvetkova, Ilya Zhegulev, and Luke Baker, and based on interviews with "more than a dozen people" (most of those providing information on Biden's role anonymous), it came up with truly lame examples of the younger Biden's vast contributions to Burisma's business that could justify the huge amount of money he got for the appointment.  

Interviews with more than a dozen people, including executives and former prosecutors in Ukraine, paint a picture of a director who provided advice on legal issues, corporate finance and strategy during a five-year term on the board, which ended in April of this year.

No details, of course.  Remember, Hunter Biden was a drug addict who was unable to complete service in the U.S. Navy because he could not give up his drug habit.  While he was trained as a lawyer, I have seen no information that he had any expertise at all in corporate finance or strategy.

The company has said it had wanted to strengthen corporate governance. According to two sources close to the company, Burisma was also looking to attract international investment as well as expand overseas.(snip)

According to four sources close to the company, Biden regularly attended Burisma's twice annual board meetings — all of which were held outside of Ukraine.

"Regularly attended" is not the same as attended all of them.  Over the course of five years, there would be a maximum of ten meetings he could have attended.  How many did he actually attend?  Reuters doesn't tell us.  "Regularly" could mean once a year, or once every eighteen months, or even every two and a half years.

A source close to the company [that's pretty vague.  Why so coy?]  said Biden took part in strategic conversations and shared his opinions and experience. In between board meetings, "there were constant calls, dialogue, sharing of advice, consideration of different options," the source said. "Expansion to other markets was also discussed," the source added.

Another source close to Burisma said Biden assisted with analysis of oil and gas assets the company was considering buying abroad, though a deal didn't go through. The company was considering possible acquisitions in Europe, Kazakhstan and the United States, the source and another person close to Burisma said.

Both sources said that around the time Biden was appointed, Burisma was also looking to secure a financing deal with foreign investment funds, including one in the United States.

Biden helped to find lawyers to work on this process, before it broke down due to the start of the war in east Ukraine, one of those two sources said. "He was a ceremonial figure," that person added.

All of this is so vague that it could encompass Biden telling them about his politically connected friends.

But Reuters does concede:

Biden never visited Ukraine for company business during that time, according to three of the people.

And:

Oleksandr Onyshchenko, a businessman and former member of the Ukrainian parliament who knows the Burisma founder, said it had been Zlochevsky's idea to appoint Biden as a director. "It was to protect (the company)" at a time when it was facing investigations, said Onyshchenko, who left the country in 2016. In the run up to Biden's appointment, a popular uprising led to the removal of the Russian-backed Yanukovich in February 2014.

The basic problem that Biden and his Reuters defenders have is that even the sketchy claims of legal, financial, and strategic expertise mentioned are not enough in most people's eyes to justify the huge income he received.

[T]he records show 18 months in which two payments of $83,333 per month were paid to Rosemont Seneca Bohai [Biden's and his friend Archer's company]  for "consulting services." The two sources said that one of those monthly payments was intended for Biden and one for Archer. Reuters was not able to independently verify the authenticity of the documents or how much money Hunter Biden received.

As the legal expression "res ipsa loquitur" ("the thing speaks for itself") indicates, the smell from this engagement is so strong that you don't really have to know anything more to come to a political (as opposed to a judicial) conclusion that it is corrupt.

I found it hard to read this Reuters article without bursting out laughing.  Titled "What Hunter Biden did on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma," and written by no fewer than four correspondents, Polina Ivanova, Maria Tsvetkova, Ilya Zhegulev, and Luke Baker, and based on interviews with "more than a dozen people" (most of those providing information on Biden's role anonymous), it came up with truly lame examples of the younger Biden's vast contributions to Burisma's business that could justify the huge amount of money he got for the appointment.  

Interviews with more than a dozen people, including executives and former prosecutors in Ukraine, paint a picture of a director who provided advice on legal issues, corporate finance and strategy during a five-year term on the board, which ended in April of this year.

No details, of course.  Remember, Hunter Biden was a drug addict who was unable to complete service in the U.S. Navy because he could not give up his drug habit.  While he was trained as a lawyer, I have seen no information that he had any expertise at all in corporate finance or strategy.

The company has said it had wanted to strengthen corporate governance. According to two sources close to the company, Burisma was also looking to attract international investment as well as expand overseas.(snip)

According to four sources close to the company, Biden regularly attended Burisma's twice annual board meetings — all of which were held outside of Ukraine.

"Regularly attended" is not the same as attended all of them.  Over the course of five years, there would be a maximum of ten meetings he could have attended.  How many did he actually attend?  Reuters doesn't tell us.  "Regularly" could mean once a year, or once every eighteen months, or even every two and a half years.

A source close to the company [that's pretty vague.  Why so coy?]  said Biden took part in strategic conversations and shared his opinions and experience. In between board meetings, "there were constant calls, dialogue, sharing of advice, consideration of different options," the source said. "Expansion to other markets was also discussed," the source added.

Another source close to Burisma said Biden assisted with analysis of oil and gas assets the company was considering buying abroad, though a deal didn't go through. The company was considering possible acquisitions in Europe, Kazakhstan and the United States, the source and another person close to Burisma said.

Both sources said that around the time Biden was appointed, Burisma was also looking to secure a financing deal with foreign investment funds, including one in the United States.

Biden helped to find lawyers to work on this process, before it broke down due to the start of the war in east Ukraine, one of those two sources said. "He was a ceremonial figure," that person added.

All of this is so vague that it could encompass Biden telling them about his politically connected friends.

But Reuters does concede:

Biden never visited Ukraine for company business during that time, according to three of the people.

And:

Oleksandr Onyshchenko, a businessman and former member of the Ukrainian parliament who knows the Burisma founder, said it had been Zlochevsky's idea to appoint Biden as a director. "It was to protect (the company)" at a time when it was facing investigations, said Onyshchenko, who left the country in 2016. In the run up to Biden's appointment, a popular uprising led to the removal of the Russian-backed Yanukovich in February 2014.

The basic problem that Biden and his Reuters defenders have is that even the sketchy claims of legal, financial, and strategic expertise mentioned are not enough in most people's eyes to justify the huge income he received.

[T]he records show 18 months in which two payments of $83,333 per month were paid to Rosemont Seneca Bohai [Biden's and his friend Archer's company]  for "consulting services." The two sources said that one of those monthly payments was intended for Biden and one for Archer. Reuters was not able to independently verify the authenticity of the documents or how much money Hunter Biden received.

As the legal expression "res ipsa loquitur" ("the thing speaks for itself") indicates, the smell from this engagement is so strong that you don't really have to know anything more to come to a political (as opposed to a judicial) conclusion that it is corrupt.