Burisma Holdings, the eastern European natural gas conglomerate that once had Hunter Biden on its board of directors, is being accused of attempting to bribe Ukrainian officials with more than $5 million in order to end a corruption probe into the company.
Ukrainian law enforcement officials announced on Saturday at a press conference in Kyiv that they had seized more than $5 million in what is alleged to be a bribery scheme perpetrated to benefit Mykola Zlochevsky, Burisma’s founder.
According to Ukrainian officials, three suspects, who all have ties to Zlochvesky, attempted to bribe anti-corruption officials investigating the Burisma and its founder for embezzlement. Burisma, thus far, has denied any part in the scheme.
Nazar Kholodnytsky, the head of Ukraine’s national anti-corruption bureau, claimed the alleged scheme had no connection with either Hunter Biden or his father, the presumptive Democrat nominee.
“Let’s put an end to this once and for all. Biden Jr. and Biden Sr. do not appear in this particular proceeding,” Kholodnytsky told reporters at the press conference.
Despite the fact that the Bidens were not involved in the alleged scheme, the issue does not bode well for them, especially as Congress is investigating Burisma’s ties to the Obama administration.
Last month, the Senate Homeland Security Committee voted to subpoena Blue Star Strategies, a Washington, D.C. based public relations firm once employed by Burisma to help fight allegations of public corruption. In May 2019, the New York Times reported that Hunter Biden was linked to Burisma’s hiring the firm.
The younger Biden joined Burisma’s board of directors in May 2014, around the same time his father was tapped to be the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine. Despite having no background in either eastern Europe or the energy industry, Hunter Biden was paid as much $83,000-per-month for his services.
Adding to concerns was that he joined the company at a time when it was actively courting western leaders to prevent scrutiny of its business practices. The same month of the appointment, Zlochevsky had his assets frozen in the United Kingdom on suspicion of money laundering.
A Ukrainian official with ties to Zlochevsky admitted in October 2019 the only reason Hunter Biden was tapped to join Burisma was to “protect” the company from foreign scrutiny.
It is in the context of Burisma and Zlochevsky’s legal troubles that Joe Biden’s influence has raised red flags. The former vice president has particularly drawn questions over his conduct in demanding the Ukrainian government fire its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in 2016. The demand for Shokin’s ouster was tied to more than $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees.
The former vice president, who has publicly bragged about the firing, has claimed the demand came from then-President Barack Obama, who had allegedly lost faith in the prosecutor’s ability to tackle corruption. Unofficially, though, it was known that Shokin was investigating both Burisma and Zlochevsky for public corruption.
It is uncertain if that probe extended to Hunter Biden, although Shokin has claimed that prior to his ouster, he was warned to back off the matter. Regardless of what occurred, Shokin’s successor, who is now himself being investigated for public corruption, dropped the investigation into Burisma.
Hunter Biden remained on the company’s board until his term expired in April 2019. During his tenure, Burisma wired millions of dollars to a Morgan Stanley bank account controlled by the younger Biden and his business associates. Between November 2014 and November 2015 alone, Burisma transferred more than $3.5 million to the account.