Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley pressed the Justice Department to review whether former Vice President Joe Biden’s brother, James, and son, Hunter, should have been required to register as foreign agents of China as they pursued lucrative business deals with a Chinese Communist Party-linked company and its wealthy tycoon.
Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, sent a seven-page letter to Attorney General William Barr related to recent revelations about James and Hunter Biden’s efforts to work out a deal with CEFC China Energy, a since-bankrupted multi-billion dollar Chinese energy company that had been led by Chinese Communist Party-linked Ye Jianming, who has since disappeared in China. The Iowa Republican, who along with Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released a report in September detailing information about James and Hunter Biden’s foreign business pursuits in China and elsewhere, asked DOJ to see if the two Biden family members had complied with the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
“When the available evidence is taken as a whole, it is clear that CEFC intended to make inroads in the United States for the purpose of expanding its business and used Hunter Biden and his business associates to help effectuate that intent,” Grassley wrote to Barr. “In pursuit of its goals, it appears that CEFC may have taken action to influence U.S. policy and public opinion in its favor and gain access to several U.S. politicians in an attempt to curry favor for potential business transactions.”
Hunter Biden made it clear that one of his goals was to avoid violating the anti-bribery Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or having to register as a foreign agent as he pursued potentially lucrative deals with the Chinese company, according to texts released by his ex-business partner Tony Bobulinski in late October.
“No matter what it will need to be a U.S. company at some level in order for us to make bids on federal and state-funded projects. Also we don’t want to have to register as foreign agents under the FCPA [Foreign Corrupt Practices Act] which is much more expansive than people who should know choose not to know. James has very particular opinions about this so I would ask him about the foreign entity,” Hunter Biden texted Bobulinski on May 1, 2017.
The Justice Department says that the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act “was enacted for the purpose of making it unlawful for certain classes of persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business.” It is possible that Hunter Biden may have also been thinking of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a law that “requires certain agents of foreign principals … to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal.”
When Patrick Ho, one of Ye’s lieutenants, was charged by the Justice Department in 2017, the first call he reportedly made after his arrest was to James Biden, who has said he thought the call was meant for Hunter Biden. Ho was indicted and convicted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the Southern District of New York for his role in a global money laundering and bribery scheme aimed at government officials in Africa. Ho was sentenced to three years in federal prison in March 2019 and was deported to Hong Kong in June. Ho tried reaching out to Joe Biden's son for help because he agreed to represent Ho as part of his efforts to work out a natural gas deal with Ye, who was later apparently arrested by Chinese authorities.
“Based on the information acquired to date, CEFC was controlled by a foreign government, received financial support therefrom, and may have engaged in activity to influence the U.S. Government and public for the benefit of the communist Chinese government. Accordingly, the actions by Hunter Biden and James Biden on behalf of CEFC, Ye Jianming, and other officers connected to CEFC, potentially make them agents of the Chinese government for purposes of longstanding public disclosure laws,” Grassley told DOJ. “The American public deserves to know when foreign entities are operating in and attempting to influence U.S. policy and public opinion. Accordingly, I request that the DOJ review the evidence to determine if the actions undertaken by Hunter Biden and James Biden for CEFC, Ye Jianming, and other individuals linked to the communist Chinese government, constitute activity that requires registration under FARA.”
Hunter Biden's lawyer did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner‘s request for comment.
Bobulinski repeatedly expressed in messages in 2017 to his business partners and in emails to CEFC that he expected the venture to get off the ground with $10 million in startup money from the Chinese businessmen. The Chinese money never showed up for the joint venture. The September 2020 report from Grassley and Johnson concluded that millions of dollars were ultimately directly or indirectly sent by CEFC to accounts linked to James and Hunter Biden instead.
“I have heard Joe Biden say that he has never discussed business with Hunter,” Bobulinski said before the second presidential debate. “That is false. I have firsthand knowledge about this because I directly dealt with the Biden family, including Joe Biden.”
Joe Biden said during the debate in late October that he has “not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.”
“Joe Biden has never even considered being involved in business with his family nor in any overseas business whatsoever,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates told the Washington Examiner. “He has never held stock in any such business arrangements nor has any family member or any other person ever held stock for him.”
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