WASHINGTON: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter was involved in questionable business dealings in China and Ukraine, but there was no sign of improper influence by the former vice-president, a Senate Republican report said Wednesday.
Biden received repeated warnings about his son’s affairs, but he took no action while vice-president to deter those relationships which appeared designed to give foreign businesses inroads into the US government.
The report from Senate Republicans, released six weeks before the presidential election showdown between Biden and President Donald Trump, also did not find that Joe Biden altered US policy or took other actions to assist Hunter.
It was nevertheless heralded by Trump supporters as “evidence” of wrongdoing by the former vice-president.
“Hunter Biden had business associations with Chinese nationals linked to the Communist government & People’s Liberation Party … All while Hunter’s dad was VPOTUS,” said Senator Ron Johnson, who directed the probe.
The report details Hunter Biden’s multi-million-dollar business ties to controversial Ukraine energy group Burisma and Chinese investment group Bohai Capital in 2013-2016.
At the time, Joe Biden was vice-president under president Barack Obama and was personally involved in putting official pressure on the Kiev government to get rid of powerful corrupt officials.
Burisma was controlled by tycoon Mykola Zlochevsky, who the US believed was involved in corrupt payments to top officials, according to the report.
But in 2014, Hunter Biden and his business partner Devon Archer were invited to join Burisma’s board, each earning up to US$50,000 a month.
At the time, US diplomatic officials repeatedly warned Biden of the implicit conflict of interest.
But no evidence was offered that the vice-president altered US policy to help his son.
Instead, the report said Hunter Biden’s tie to Burisma “was awkward” for US policymakers and “hindered” anti-corruption measures in Ukraine.
US$3.5 million from Russian
In China, Hunter Biden linked up with a Chinese group to create a fund for capital investments.
The Senate report says that one of those investments into a US auto parts maker was cleared of security concerns by a powerful US government board in 2015 during the Obama administration.
But it makes no link between the decision and Joe Biden.
The report also says that Biden and Archer’s US company in 2014 received a US$3.5 million consulting payment from a company owned by Elena Baturina, the billionaire wife of the former mayor of Moscow.
The Biden company appeared to have later helped Baturina invest in a US technology startup that went bankrupt in 2019.
There was no immediate comment on the report from either of the Bidens.
Trump’s election campaign said the revelations “amount to stunning levels of corruption and breathtaking breaches of America’s national security”.
They also said the report showed Biden had lied about never having discussed his son’s business with Hunter.
Democratic Senator Ron Wyden wrote on Twitter that the investigation “into manufactured dirt on Joe Biden was a waste of taxpayer resources”.