US Senate Committee on Homeland Security
US Senate Committee on Finance
(September 18, 2020)
In late 2013 and into 2014, mass protests erupted in Kyiv, Ukraine, demanding integration into western economies and an end to systemic corruption that had plagued the country. At least 82 people were killed during the protests, which culminated on Feb. 21 when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych abdicated by fleeing the country. Less than two months later, over the span of only 28 days, significant events involving the Bidens unfolded.
On April 16, 2014, Vice President Biden met with his son’s business partner, Devon Archer, at the White House. Five days later, Vice President Biden visited Ukraine, and he soon after was described in the press as the “public face of the administration’s handling of Ukraine.” The day after his visit, on April 22, Archer joined the board of Burisma. Six days later, on April 28, British officials seized $23 million from the London bank accounts of Burisma’s owner, Mykola Zlochevsky. Fourteen days later, on May 12, Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma, and over the course of the next several years, Hunter Biden and Devon Archer were paid millions of dollars from a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch for their participation on the board.
The 2014 protests in Kyiv came to be known as the Revolution of Dignity — a revolution against corruption in Ukraine. Following that revolution, Ukrainian political figures were desperate for U.S. support. Zlochevsky would have made sure relevant Ukrainian officials were well aware of Hunter’s appointment to Burisma’s board as leverage. Hunter Biden’s position on the board created an immediate potential conflict of interest that would prove to be problematic for both U.S. and Ukrainian officials and would affect the implementation of Ukraine policy.
The Chairmen’s investigation into potential conflicts of interest began in August 2019, with Chairman Grassley’s letter to the Department of Treasury regarding potential conflicts of interest with respect to Obama administration policy relating to the Henniges transaction.1 During the Obama administration, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) approved a transaction that gave control over Henniges, an American maker of anti- vibration technologies with military applications, to a Chinese government-owned aviation company and a China-based investment firm with established ties to the Chinese government. One of the companies involved in the Henniges transaction was a billion-dollar private investment fund called Bohai Harvest RST (BHR). BHR was formed in November 2013 by a merger between the Chinese-government-linked firm Bohai Capital and a company named Rosemont Seneca Partners. Rosemont Seneca was formed in 2009 by Hunter Biden, the son of then-Vice President Joe Biden, by Chris Heinz, the stepson of former Secretary of State John Kerry, and others.
Access to relevant documents and testimony has been persistently hampered by criminal investigations, impeachment proceedings, COVID-19, and several instances of obstructive behavior. Accordingly, this investigation has taken longer than it should have. The Chairmen’s efforts have always been driven by our belief that the public has the right to know about wrongdoing and conflicts of interest occurring within government, and especially those conflicts brought about by the actions of governmental officials. This is a good-government oversight investigation that relies on documents and testimony from U.S. agencies and officials, not a Russian disinformation campaign, as our Democratic colleagues have falsely stated.
What the Chairmen discovered during the course of this investigation is that the Obama administration knew that Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board was problematic and did interfere in the efficient execution of policy with respect to Ukraine. Moreover, this investigation has illustrated the extent to which officials within the Obama administration ignored the glaring warning signs when the vice president’s son joined the board of a company owned by a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch. And, as will be discussed in later sections, Hunter Biden was not the only Biden who cashed in on Joe Biden’s vice presidency.
This report not only details examples of extensive and complex financial transactions involving the Bidens, it also describes the quandary other U.S. governmental officials faced as they attempted to guide and support Ukraine’s anticorruption efforts. The Committees will continue to evaluate the information and evidence as it becomes available.
- In early 2015 the former Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, George Kent, raised concerns to officials in Vice President Joe Biden’s office about the perception of a conflict of interest with respect to Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board. Kent’s concerns went unaddressed, and in September 2016, he emphasized in an email to his colleagues, “Furthermore, the presence of Hunter Biden on the Burisma board was very awkward for all U.S. officials pushing an anticorruption agenda in Ukraine.”
- In October 2015, senior State Department official Amos Hochstein raised concerns with Vice President Biden, as well as with Hunter Biden, that Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board enabled Russian disinformation efforts and risked undermining U.S. policy in Ukraine.
- Although Kent believed that Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board was awkward for all U.S. officials pushing an anti-corruption agenda in Ukraine, the Committees are only aware of two individuals — Kent and former U.S. Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein — who raised concerns to Vice President Joe Biden (Hochstein) or his staff (Kent).
- The awkwardness for Obama administration officials continued well past his presidency. Former Secretary of State John Kerry had knowledge of Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board, but when asked about it at a town hall event in Nashua, N.H. on Dec. 8, 2019, Kerry falsely said, “I had no knowledge about any of that. None. No.” Evidence to the contrary is detailed in Section V.
- Former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland testified that confronting oligarchs would send an anticorruption message in Ukraine. Kent told the Committees that Zlochevsky was an “odious oligarch.” However, in December 2015, instead of following U.S. objectives of confronting oligarchs, Vice President Biden’s staff advised him to avoid commenting on Zlochevsky and recommended he say, “I’m not going to get into naming names or accusing individuals.”
- Hunter Biden was serving on Burisma’s board (supposedly consulting on corporate governance and transparency) when Zlochevsky allegedly paid a $7 million bribe to officials serving under Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Vitaly Yarema, to “shut the case against Zlochevsky.” Kent testified that this bribe occurred in December 2014 (seven months after Hunter joined Burisma’s board), and, after learning about it, he and the Resident Legal Advisor reported this allegation to the FBI.
- Hunter Biden was a U.S. Secret Service protectee from Jan. 29, 2009 to July 8, 2014. A day before his last trip as a protectee, Time published an article describing Burisma’s ramped up lobbying efforts to U.S. officials and Hunter’s involvement in Burisma’s board. Before ending his protective detail, Hunter Biden received Secret Service protection on trips to multiple foreign locations, including Moscow, Beijing, Doha, Paris, Seoul, Manila, Tokyo, Mexico City, Milan, Florence, Shanghai, Geneva, London, Dublin, Munich, Berlin, Bogota, Abu Dhabi, Nairobi, Hong Kong, Taipei, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Johannesburg, Brussels, Madrid, Mumbai and Lake Como.
- Andrii Telizhenko, the Democrats’ personification of Russian disinformation, met with Obama administration officials, including Elisabeth Zentos, a member of Obama’s National Security Council, at least 10 times. A Democrat lobbying firm, Blue Star Strategies, contracted with Telizhenko from 2016 to 2017 and continued to request his assistance as recent as the summer of 2019. A recent news article detailed other extensive contacts between Telizhenko and Obama administration officials.
- In addition to the over $4 million paid by Burisma for Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s board memberships, Hunter Biden, his family, and Archer received millions of dollars from foreign nationals with questionable backgrounds.
- Archer received $142,300 from Kenges Rakishev of Kazakhstan, purportedly for a car, the same day Vice President Joe Biden appeared with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arsemy Yasenyuk and addressed Ukrainian legislators in Kyiv regarding Russia’s actions in Crimea.
- Hunter Biden received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Elena Baturina, the wife of the former mayor of Moscow.
- Hunter Biden opened a bank account with Gongwen Dong to fund a $100,000 global spending spree with James Biden and Sara Biden.
- Hunter Biden had business associations with Ye Jianming, Gongwen Dong, and other Chinese nationals linked to the Communist government and the People’s Liberation Army. Those associations resulted in millions of dollars in cash flow.
- Hunter Biden paid nonresident women who were nationals of Russia or other Eastern European countries and who appear to be linked to an “Eastern European prostitution or human trafficking ring.”
As the Chairmen’s report details, Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board negatively impacted the efforts of dedicated career-service individuals who were fighting to push for anticorruption measures in Ukraine. Because the vice president’s son had a direct link to a corrupt company and its owner, State Department officials were required to maintain situational awareness of Hunter Biden’s association with Burisma. Unfortunately, U.S. officials had no other choice but to endure the “awkward[ness]” of continuing to push an anticorruption agenda in Ukraine while the vice president’s son sat on the board of a Ukrainian company with a corrupt owner. As George Kent testified, he “would have advised any American not to get on the board of Zlochevsky’s company.”429 Yet, even though Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board cast a shadow over the work of those advancing anticorruption reforms in Ukraine, the Committees are only aware of two individuals who raised concerns to their superiors. Despite the efforts of these individuals, their concerns appear to have fallen on deaf ears.
Former Secretary Kerry’s December 2019 denial of having any knowledge about Hunter Biden or Burisma is inconsistent with the evidence uncovered by the Committees. Kerry was briefed about Hunter Biden, Burisma and Christopher Heinz the day after Burisma announced Hunter Biden joined its board. Additionally, Secretary Kerry’s senior advisor sent him press clips and articles relating to Hunter Biden’s board membership. This appears to be yet another example of high-ranking Obama administration officials blatantly ignoring Hunter Biden’s association with Burisma.
Several witnesses highlighted efforts to enable a successful investigation of Zlochevsky, and also noted that the U.S. decision to condition a $1 billion loan guarantee was made in part because of the then-Ukrainian prosecutor general’s failure to pursue a case against Zlochevsky. But at the end of the day, between 2014 through 2017, despite the concerted effort of many U.S. officials, not one of the three different Ukrainian prosecutor generals held Zlochevsky accountable.
The Obama administration and the Democrat lobby shop Blue Star Strategies had consistent and extensive contact with Andrii Telizhenko over a period of years. Yet despite these well-documented contacts with Democratic officials, Democrats have attempted to impugn this investigation for having received some Blue Star-related records from Telizhenko. Some Democrats have even (incorrectly) identified Telizhenko as the Committees’ “star witness.”430Although he produced a small number of Blue Star-related records to the Committees, the Committees never interviewed him as part of this investigation.
Even though almost all of the Committees’ records are from U.S. agencies and U.S. officials or persons, Democrats have repeatedly misconstrued the facts of this investigation and have smeared it as a Russian disinformation campaign. In doing so, they conveniently have ignored their own long history of meeting with Telizhenko and his yearlong work for a Democrat lobby shop. If Democrats are concerned that Telizhenko presents any risk of advancing disinformation, it is notable that the Ranking Members have not expressed any curiosity about his work with the Obama administration or Blue Star Strategies.
The records acquired by the Committees also show that Hunter Biden and his family were involved in a vast financial network that connected them to foreign nationals and foreign governments across the globe. Hunter Biden and Devon Archer, in particular, formed significant and consistent financial relationships with the corrupt oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky during their time working for Burisma, and their firms made millions of dollars from that association while Joe Biden was vice president and the public face of the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy. Rosemont Seneca Thornton, an investment firm co-founded by Hunter Biden, received $3.5 million in a wire transfer from Elena Baturina, who allegedly received illegal construction contracts from her husband, the then-mayor of Moscow. Moreover, Archer’s apparent receipt of money for a car from Kenges Rakishev of Kazakhstan while Vice President Biden was in Kyiv is especially concerning in light of the timing. And finally, Biden and Archer’s work with Chinese nationals connected to the Communist regime illustrate the deep financial connections that accelerated while Joe Biden was vice president and continued after he left office.
The Chairmen’s investigation has faced many obstacles from the minority and from executive agencies that have failed to comply with document requests. Accordingly, there remains much work to be done.