The Latvian government noticed “suspicious” financial transactions involving former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and several of his colleagues at Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company, according to a newly released document and a Latvian official.
The Office for Prevention of Laundering of Proceeds Derived from Criminal Activity in Latvia wrote to Ukraine on Feb. 18, 2016, telling officials there that the office “is currently investigating the suspicious activity of Burisma Holdings Limited.”
“According to publicly available information, Burisma Holding Limited and its director Hunter Biden are involved in corruption affair [sic],” the letter, reported by One America News on Dec. 15, stated.
Latvia said it traced $14.6 million received by Burisma from Wirelogic Technology AS as payments for loan agreements between July 2012 and July 2014. The money was “partially transferred” from a Burisma account to Biden and three colleagues, including fellow American Devon Archer, who also sat on Burisma’s board for a number of years.
Viktor Shokin, the prosecutor who Joe Biden pressured Ukraine into removing in 2016, told One America News that the Latvia document and other such documents made it impossible for him to simply shut down a probe into Burisma, as he was asked to do by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, before being ousted.
Latvian authorities asked Ukrainian counterparts for any evidence about the funds possibly being used for corrupt purposes but Arturs Saburovs, the third secretary at the Latvian embassy in Washington, told journalist John Solomon that Latvia didn’t receive any evidence back from Ukraine.
Saburovs said it didn’t appear as if his country alerted U.S. authorities, even as three of the four people named in the letter were Americans.
President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told One America News that the money transactions were “classic money laundering.
“It goes from Ukraine to Latvia—it’s disguised as a loan to another company, Wirelogic, I believe—it then goes to Cyprus, it’s disguised as another loan. Then it’s dispersed as payment of board fees. Now you don’t make two loans to pay board fees unless you’re laundering the money,” Giuliani told the broadcaster.
Trump is facing impeachment because of a request in July to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “look into” allegations of corruption surrounding the Bidens, which Democrats said is an abuse of office since Joe Biden is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
State Department employees told lawmakers during impeachment hearings that there were concerns about what Giuliani was doing, but also expressed fears about Hunter Biden’s position in Ukraine while Joe Biden as vice president was leading official U.S. government policy in the country. George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state, said he took concerns to Biden’s office but the concerns weren’t acted upon. At one point, he intervened that year to stop a project that had developed between the department and Burisma.
“Burisma had a poor reputation in the business, and I didn’t think it was appropriate for the U.S. Government to be co-sponsoring something with a company that had a bad reputation,” Kent said.
Asked if she concurred with Kent on the Bidens and Burisma, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch told lawmakers: “I think that it could raise the appearance of a conflict of interest.”
Emails recently received by Solomon under the Freedom of Information Act showed that Burisma representatives tried to pressure State Department employees in 2016 to stop corruption allegations against the company. In mid-March that year, the department’s top official for Ukraine called for Shokin’s ouster and Joe Biden forced Poroshenko to oust Shokin a few weeks later.
Biden told an audience in 2018 about what happened.
“I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,” Biden said.
“Well, son of a [expletive]. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”
Both Bidens have denied wrongdoing.
The probe into Burisma was closed within a year after Shokin was ousted, though Zelensky’s new top prosecutor has a team reviewing cases closed in the past, including the Burisma investigation.
Ruslan Ryaboshapka, the prosecutor, said in November that the probe into the founder of Burisma was widening to include embezzlement of state funds.