Investigative journalist John Solomon reported Tuesday on new evidence from the Ukrainian and Latvian governments as well as interviews with officials that adds to “the mounting evidence that there was ongoing investigative activity surrounding Burisma Holdings and Hunter Biden’s compensation as a board member in the weeks just before Joe Biden forced the firing of the Ukraine prosecutor overseeing the Burisma investigation in spring 2016.”
The issue of potential corruption involving the Bidens is at the heart of the impeachment effort, as Democrats are accusing President Trump of attempting to “pressure” Ukraine to investigate the matter. Democrats have also repeatedly dismissed Trump’s concerns about the Biden-Ukraine corruption question as “conspiratorial.”
“As the U.S. presidential race began roaring to life in 2016, authorities in the former Soviet republic of Latvia flagged a series of ‘suspicious’ financial transactions to Hunter Biden and other colleagues at a Ukrainian natural gas company [Burisma Holdings] and sought Kiev’s help investigating,” Solomon writes in a report published Tuesday on his website, John Solomon Reports.
“The Feb. 18, 2016 alert to Ukraine came from the Latvian prosecutorial agency responsible for investigating money laundering, and it specifically questioned whether Vice President Joe Biden’s younger son and three other officials at Burisma Holdings were the potential beneficiaries of suspect funds,” Solomon explains.
“The Office for Prevention of Laundering of Proceeds Derived from Criminal Activity … is currently investigating suspicious activity of Burisma Holdings Limited,” the Latvian agency (known as the FIU) told Ukraine’s financial authorities in a memo provided to Solomon by the Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office and confirmed by the Latvian embassy to the U.S.
The Latvian FIU’s memo “identified a series of loan payments totaling about $16.6 million that were routed from companies in Beliz and the United Kingdom to Burisma through Ukraine’s PrivatBank between 2012 and 2015,” Solomon writes. “The flagged funds were ‘partially transferred’ to Hunter Biden, a board member at Burisma since May 2014, and three other officials working for the Ukrainian natural gas company.”
The letter asked Ukrainian officials for any evidence of criminal activity or corruption involving the funds and for the permission to share the information.
On the grounds of possible legalization of proceeds derived from criminal activity and corruption, please grant us permission to share the information included in the reply to this request with Latvian law enforcement entities for intelligence purposes only,” the request reads.
An official with Latvia’s Washington-based embassy, Third Secretary Arturs Saburovs, told Solomon that the transactions were flagged by the Latvia FIU after public reports about Ukraine’s investigation into Burisma, but that his government received no criminal evidence from Ukraine and thus took no further action on the investigation.
In this case, the Latvian FIU reached out to its Ukrainian counterpart seeking additional clarifications,” Saburovs told Solomon. “Information was received, yet no incriminatory evidence for further analysis was provided by the Ukrainian authorities.” (Read Solomon’s full report here.)
In March 2016, Biden famously threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid to pressure Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor, Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who was conducting a corruption investigation into Burisma, where Biden’s son had held a lucrative board position since 2014. Joe Biden insists his successful attempt to get Shokin fired had nothing to do with a potential investigation into Burisma and his son, maintaining instead that he wanted Shokin removed because he was failing to weed out corruption.
The whistleblower complaint that sparked the Democrats’ impeachment campaign centers around President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his request that Ukraine “look into” the Biden corruption issue.
“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that,” Trump told Zelensky. “So whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.”
Trump also asked Zelensky to “do us a favor” by “find[ing] out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine,” a reference to allegations that Ukraine was involved in 2016 U.S. election interference.