The following is part 3 in a three part series investigating the topics Trump discussed with Ukrainian president Zelensky.
During Ambassador Sondland’s testimony in the House Impeachment hearings last month, the Ukraine Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka announced a widening of their investigation of Hunter Biden employer Burisma to include embezzlement of state funds. Reuters covered the announcement at the time, and referenced a separate press conference held the same day in which more detailed allegations were leaked by two Ukraine MPs, but much of the U.S. media either ignored the stories entirely or focused on debunking the claim that Burisma’s owner had in fact been indicted.
“‘There’s been an investigation into Burisma for a long time,’ [‘disinformation researcher’ Nina] Jankowicz said. ‘The allegations are about corruption with Burisma’s head, which have been well known for a long time,'” reported NBC News, apparently questioning the newsworthiness of the dual press conferences. NBC News did not dispute the allegations laid out in the MP press conference — only the claim that an indictment had been filed — but it cited an Atlantic Council senior fellow in saying two of the MPs were “professional disinformers” and “not credible.” [Related: Anti-Russian Atlantic Council Tied to Burisma, Crowdstrike]
Yes indeed, Ukrainians have long been aware of allegations of corruption against Burisma head Mykola Zlochevsky — though of course that did not stop Hunter Biden from taking a lucrative job for the company while his father oversaw Ukraine policy, including U.S. aid, IMF loan negotiations, and ironically, anti-corruption efforts. Nor did any of that stop the elder Biden from bragging to the Council of Foreign Relations that he’d forced Ukraine to fire the prosecutor who was investigating Burisma, or lose $1 billion in aid. [Related: Biden-Ukraine Timeline]
Joe Biden brags about how he threatened to pull $1 billion in loan guarantees from Ukraine if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.The prosecutor, who was fired, was leading a corruption investigation into a company that employed Biden’s son, Hunter pic.twitter.com/xZd3vIMbuL — Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) September 20, 2019
But while Ukrainians are well aware of the allegations against Burisma, Americans are woefully under-informed of the full extent of those allegations and the ongoing problems Ukraine faces. This week saw violent clashes in Ukraine over controversial land reforms that are required as a condition of IMF loans. If last month’s leaked allegations by Ukraine MPs are to be believed, the embezzlement of funds and the IMF pressure on Ukraine may in fact be related.
Given that Trump’s request for further Ukrainian investigations has been considered an impeachable offense, Americans should at least be clear on what exactly there is to investigate.
Payments Came “From Money Stolen From Citizens”
Zero Hedge quotes from the MP’s press conference: “The son of Vice-President Joe Biden was receiving payment for his services, with money raised through criminal means and money laundering,” MP Alexander Dubinsky said, adding “Biden received money that did not come from the company’s successful operation but rather from money stolen from citizens.”
The MPs put the total dollar amount paid to the Biden group — comprised of Hunter Biden, Devon Archer, Alan Apter and Alexander Kwasniewski — at $16.5 million. Thus far, payment records show Hunter received just over $83K per month, or about $1.5 million for 18 months.
Interfax also reported on the MP press conference, that “According to the investigation, Zlochevsky was directly involved in the withdrawal of funds by the Yanukovych Family….,” Derkach said.
MP Dublinsky alleged, “the Yanukovych ‘family’ illegally obtained $7.4 billion and laundered the funds through an investment fund close to some representatives of the U.S. Democratic Party in the form of external government loan bonds.” He named Franklin Templeton Investments as that investment fund, and also alleged the existence of “a financial pyramid scheme” that “is still working under the guidance of the current managerial board of the National Bank, ensuring that money flows in the interest of people who stole millions of dollars, took it offshore and bought Ukrainian public bonds turning them into the Ukrainian sovereign debt.”
The charge that billions of Ukraine funds were siphoned and moved offshore is not new. In 2015 Harper’s Magazine reported on the disappearance of $1.8 billion in IMF funds that moved from Ukraine through Igor Kolomoisky’s Privat Bank [now National Bank] to multiple international accounts in exchange for purchases of goods that were cancelled and never refunded. Kolomoisky has been identified by some as being the true acting head of Burisma.
The IMF Connection
In a lengthy interview with Apostrophe published on the same day as the press conferences — titled “We take money from the IMF in order to pay money to the defendants of the ‘common Yanucovech’ – prosecutor Kulik” — Ukraine prosecutor Konstantin Kulik went into further detail on the suspected scheme in which ousted president Yanukovych and associates were said to have laundered embezzled money through Baltic banks and then subsequently purchased government bonds.
“For two years [former prosecutor Lutsenko and prosecutor Kulik] tried to block the payment of external debt so that the money would not go to the defendants. But to no avail. What is happening now? We take money from the IMF in order to pay money to the defendants in the common fund of Yanukovych. Complete nonsense.”
That is to say, IMF funds are used to pay off the government bond debt that was obtained with funds that are suspected of having been embezzled and laundered through offshore accounts.
IMF Pressure to Reform…To Whose Benefit?
Ukraine is now under heavy pressure from the IMF and others to pursue much needed land reforms, but under whose direction, and to whose benefit? Indeed Ukraine is in an impossibly difficult situation, with a perpetually extended moratorium on the right to sell land. But it is no wonder the Ukrainian people fear that yet another prized resource — their uniquely fertile farmland — might be unscrupulously sold and consolidated into the hands of a few oligarchs and foreign investors.
Just as the post-Soviet distribution of assets to oligarchs has been termed “false privatization,” the Devil’s in the details of today’s high pressure land reform push.
International Cooperation Needed to Investigate International Corruption
At their press conference, MPs demanded that the United States and Ukraine work together in the investigation into corruption and international money laundering involving Ukraine. “President Zelensky must pick up the phone, dial Trump, ask for help and cooperation in the fight against corruption and fly to Washington. The issue of combating international corruption in Ukraine with the participation of citizens, businessmen and U.S. officials should become a key during the meeting of the two presidents,” Andriy Derkach said.
Perhaps it is time for the two presidents to talk again — and not by phone with the whole world listening. These are serious allegations involving our two countries and the global financial community. The poorest country in Europe cannot afford to delay its anti-corruption agenda any longer over America’s partisan politics.
Trump’s position as a presidential candidate certainly did not prevent investigations into him and his inner circle, and nor should it prevent an investigation into the Bidens. Ukraine MPs charged that Hunter Biden was paid through stolen state funds, while his father Joe Biden obstructed the prosecution of the suspected guilty parties. The Bidens are describe as but one link in the chain of massive international corruption. America and Ukraine need to work together to get to expose this evil and root it out.