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It isn’t just unwanted kissing threatening Joe Biden’s bid for presidency, his past strong-arming of Ukraine to fire a prosecutor probing a company his son sits on the board of is also rearing its head again, the Hill reports.
The former vice president boasted at a January 2018 Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) meeting that he had threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk into firing prosecutor Viktor Shokin in March 2016. Biden said he gave them a six-hour deadline to fire him or he would pull $1 billion in US loan guarantees. “Well, son of a bitch, he got fired,” he said.
While Biden’s boast implied the US threatened the Ukrainian government in a single day, Ukrainian officials say the pressure was applied over months, starting in 2015.
The Hill reports that Ukrainian officials revealed that Shokin had been conducting a wide-ranging corruption probe into natural gas firm Burisma Holdings at the time. Biden’s son Hunter, a lawyer, former hedge fund president and Washington lobbyist, was a member of the board and, it has since been revealed, appeared to receive a series of payments from the gas company.
Shokin confirmed to the Hill that he had plans to conduct “interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden,” before he was fired.
The investigation into Burisma largely stopped when Shorkin was fired, but in 2018, after Biden had made his comments at the CFR, the current general prosecutor, Yury Lutsenko, started to look into the Burisma case again. He discovered members of the board and Rosemont Seneca Partners had obtained funds for “consulting services,” he told the Hill.
Lutsenko said some of the evidence he has could interest US authorities.
Burisma paid over $3 million to an account linked to Hunter Biden’s investment firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners, between April 2014 and October 2015, financial records filed in an unrelated Manhattan federal court file revealed.
Rosemont Seneca Partners usually received two transfers of $83,333 a month (amounting to $166,000) from Burisma, and on the same days, the account then paid Hunter one or more payments ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.
The Ukrainian probe into Burisma had identified Hunter and his business partner Devon Archer, who had also been appointed to Burisma’s board, as potential recipients of the money Burisma sent to Rosemont Seneca.
When Hunter was appointed to the board in 2014, some raised concerns of a conflict of interest, in light of Biden’s previous comments urging Ukraine to not be as dependant on Russia for gas. Burisma is a private company headed by former Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch banker Alan Apter. Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski sits on the board.