Bohai Harvest RST (BHR), a private equity firm bankrolled by the Chinese government that is tied to Hunter Biden, invested in an alleged African “blood mine.”
The Washington Free Beacon reported on Thursday that until September, BHR owned a stake in one of the largest cobalt and copper mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo—the Tenke Fungurume mine.
The Beacon noted:
BHR leveraged financial support from China Molybdenum, a Chinese resource company, to purchase a 24 percent stake in Congo’s Tenke Fungurume mine in 2017. The transaction gave China Molybdenum, which was already a majority stakeholder in the Congolese mine, the ‘exclusive right’ to purchase BHR’s stakes in the mine in the future.
BHR’s profit margin on the venture, however, was severally impacted by more than 10,000 illegal miners, many of whom used their residency near the Tenke Fungurume site to excavate resources for sale on the black market.
Illegal mining had long posed a problem for China Molybdenum, with the company even requesting help from the Congolese government to protect its investment.
In June 2019, the Congolese finally stepped in by deploying more than 600 troops to the mine in order to provide added security. The military’s presence, however, only exacerbated the situation, leading to a blood confrontation between the illegal miners.
“The armed forces burned down dozens of homes suspected of belonging to illegal miners, severely burning a 3-year-old girl and 14-month-old boy in the process,” the Beacon reported.
The confrontation continued throughout the summer, culminating in an August standoff wherein “soldiers fired ‘stray bullets’ into a mining camp that killed a woman and injured nine others.”
Shortly after the violence, BHR finalized the sale of its stake in the mine to China Molybdenum for the sum of $1.1 billion.
This is not the first time that BHR has made an investment in companies and regions with lackluster human rights records. BHR owns a stake in Megvii Technology, a Chinese company that designs image recognition and deep-learning software. Megvii, whose technology is in line with China’s efforts to use facial recognition systems to boost its civilian surveillance capacities, is also partially backed by the Chinese tech giant Alibaba.
In October 2019, the company was blacklisted by the Trump administration on the grounds that its technology had been used by the communist regime in Beijing to repress Muslim minorities in China’s Xinjiang Uighur region.
The revelations about BHR’s involvement in the Tenke Fungurume mine also come as Hunter Biden’s wheeling and dealing overseas has taken center stage in the 2020 presidential campaign. In October, BHR disclosed it was weighing if and how it should explain its working relationship with Biden, which was terminated that month. The controversy first started when President Donald Trump called on the Chinese government to investigate the company’s ties to the Biden family.
As Peter Schweizer detailed in Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, Biden inked a multibillion dollar deal in 2013 creating Bohai Harvest RST—a private equity fund bankrolled by the Bank of China.
The timing of the lucrative deal has been brought into question, as it came only 12 days after Hunter Biden visited China with his father, former Vice President Joe Biden, aboard Air Force Two. Officially, the then-vice president was visiting the country amid escalating tensions over islands in the South China Sea and decided to bring his granddaughter and son along.
In a March 2018 interview with Breitbart News Tonight, however, Schweizer explained the political machinations that preceded the $1.5 billion venture with China:
In December of 2013, Vice President Joe Biden flies to Asia for a trip, and the centerpiece for that trip is a visit to Beijing, China. To put this into context, in 2013, the Chinese have just exerted air rights over the South Pacific, the South China Sea. They basically have said, ‘If you want to fly in this area, you have to get Chinese approval. We are claiming sovereignty over this territory.’ Highly controversial in Japan, in the Philippines, and in other countries. Joe Biden is supposed to be going there to confront the Chinese. Well, he gets widely criticized on that trip for going soft on China. For basically not challenging them, and Japan and other countries are quite upset about this.
Since its creation, BHR has invested heavily in energy and defense projects across the globe. Apart from the shadowy timing of BHR’s inception, the company has also caught the eye of investigators in Congress for the purchase of an American company with insight into military technology and investing in companies blacklisted by the U.S. government.
Even though Biden resigned from the BHR’s board of directors in October, he has not sold his ownership stake in the firm, which is estimated to be worth millions.