A bombshell FBI informant file describing a $10 million bribery allegation against US President Joe Biden and his son Hunter has been released, showing that a Ukrainian oligarch claimed that he was “coerced” into making the pay-off.
Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner of natural gas company Burisma Holdings, told the FBI informant in 2016 while meeting at a coffee shop in Vienna, Austria, that “it cost five [million] to pay one Biden, and five (million) to another Biden,” according to the redacted FD-1023 form, released by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley.
“Zlochevsky made some comment that although Hunter Biden ‘was stupid, and his (Zlochevsky’s) dog was smarter,’ Zlochevsky needed to keep Hunter Biden (on Burisma’s board) ‘so everything will be okay’,” the June 2020 document says, the New York Post reports.
The source asked whether Hunter Biden or Joe Biden told Zlochevsky he should “retain” the younger Biden; Zlochevsky allegedly replied: “They both did.”
The federal informant — a Ukrainian-American who has been a trusted, highly credible FBI source for over a decade and been paid “six figures”, according to Mr Grassley — described four conversations with Zlochevsky, beginning with a meeting near Kyiv in late 2015 or early 2016 and continuing through a 2019 phone call.
The informant said each of his conversations with Zlochevsky occurred in the presence of a man named Alexander Ostapenko — giving the FBI a possible supporting witness.
Ostapenko “introduced” the informant to Zlochevsky and “works in some office for the administration of” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the file says.
Zlochevsky allegedly claimed to have 17 recordings of conversations with the Bidens — two of which involved Joe — as well as “many text messages” and two documents that the informant “understood to be” financial records of “payment(s) to the Bidens”.
According to Zlochevsky, the recordings and other evidence showed he was “somehow coerced into paying the Bidens to ensure Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin was fired,” the FBI source added.
In their final discussion, Zlochevsky allegedly told the informant over the phone that he had been an “oracle” for warning against partnering with the Bidens due to political controversy in the US.
“(The informant) mentioned Zlochevsky might have difficulty explaining suspicious wire transfers that may evidence any (illicit) payments to the Bidens,” the file says.
“Zlochevsky responded he did not send any funds directly to the ‘Big Guy’ (which [the FBI source] understood was a reference to Joe Biden). (The source) asked Zlochevsky how many companies/bank accounts Zlochevsky controls; Zlochevsky responded it would take them (investigators) 10 years to find the records (i.e. illicit payments to Joe Biden).”
The “big guy” reference is significant because the same nickname was used to describe a tentative 10 per cent cut for Joe Biden in 2017 as part of a partnership with Chinese-government-linked CEFC China Energy. The moniker wasn’t publicly known until October 2020 — months after the informant file was created.
At the Vienna meeting in 2016, Zlochevsky allegedly described Hunter as a conduit to his father when asked about Shokin’s investigation of Burisma.
“Zlochevsky replied something to the effect of, ‘Don’t worry Hunter will take care of all of those issues through his dad.’ (The informant) did not ask any further questions about what that specifically meant,” the file reported.
Joe Biden has publicly said that he used $1 billion in US loan guarantees as leverage to force Shokin from office, which happened in March 2016. “Well, son of a bitch. He got fired,” Mr Biden bragged at a 2018 event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations.
Hunter Biden’s employment with Burisma emerged as a major US news story in 2019 when then-President Donald Trump was impeached for pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. House Democrats pointed out that although Shokin’s office had investigated Burisma, evidence indicated that his firing also was sought by US allies in Europe due to his own corruption.
In addition to the prosecutor’s ouster, former White House stenographer Mike McCormick says Joe Biden advocated US support for Ukraine’s natural gas industry during a trip to Kyiv just days after Hunter quietly joined Burisma, in what he described as a clear conflict of interest.
White House spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement that “congressional Republicans, in their eagerness to go after President Biden regardless of the truth, continue to push claims that have been debunked for years and that they themselves have cautioned to take ‘with a grain of salt’ because they could be ‘made up.’”
“These claims have reportedly been scrutinised by the Trump Justice Department, a Trump-appointed US Attorney, and a full impeachment trial of the former President that centred on these very issues, and over and over again, they have been found to lack credibility,” Mr Sams said.
“It’s clear that congressional Republicans are deadset on playing shameless, dishonest politics and refuse to let truth get in the way. It is well past time for news organisations to hold them to basic levels of factual accountability for their repeated and increasingly desperate efforts to mislead both the public and the press.”
Hunter Biden’s legal team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
President Biden has tried to laugh off the bribery accusation, saying last month in response to a question from The Post, “Where’s the money?”
House Republicans are investigating references on Hunter Biden’s laptop to Burisma opening a Maltese bank account in 2016.
Zlochevsky has not publicly commented on the bribery allegation since it surfaced publicly on May 3, but he allegedly said in 2019 to Ukrainian-born businessman Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, that representatives of his company never spoke to Joe Biden.
According to a transcript provided by Parnas to Politico in 2020, Zlochevsky said, “No one from Burisma ever had any contacts with VP Biden or people working for him during Hunter Biden’s engagement.”
Mr Parnas, who broke with Mr Trump and Mr Giuliani in 2019, was convicted in 2021 of making illegal campaign contributions to Mr Trump’s campaign, for which he was sentenced to 20 months in prison.
In fact, there’s evidence that then-Vice President Joe Biden met with Burisma employees. He met with his son’s partner Devon Archer in 2014 around the time both Hunter Biden and Archer joined the Burisma board, according to Obama White House visitor logs, and golfed with him later that year.
Joe Biden also met with Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi at an April 16, 2015, dinner at DC’s Cafe Milano, as revealed in The Post’s first bombshell report in October 2020 on the contents of Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop.
The FBI has informed members of Congress that the bribery tip was referred to the office of Delaware US Attorney David Weiss for further investigation, though it’s unclear what has been done since to determine its accuracy. A spokeswoman for Mr Weiss declined to comment when contacted by The Post on Thursday evening, New York time.
IRS supervisory agent Gary Shapley testified to the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday that federal tax agents weren’t told of the large alleged bribe amounts during their five-year investigation of Hunter for tax fraud.
“Information like this would have been really helpful to have,” Mr Shapley said. “The team, to the best of my knowledge, never saw that [FD-1023] document.”
The informant file was created after the FBI found an earlier reference to the malfeasance in a 2017 report from the same informant, according to members of Congress involved in oversight investigations.
It’s unclear when exactly the alleged payments would have been made by Burisma, which first added Hunter Biden to its board in April 2014 as his dad assumed control of the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy.
Burisma paid Hunter up to $1 million per year through 2019, apart from the alleged bribes.
Grassley, a Republican senator from Iowa, who released a redacted version of the four-page document, asked in a statement, “What did the Justice Department and FBI do with the detailed information in the document? And why have they tried to conceal it from Congress and the American people for so long?”
The allegation has been the subject of intense political focus since it was first described publicly and Republican members of Congress have floated impeaching the president if supporting evidence is found.
FBI Director Christopher Wray allowed members of the House Oversight Committee to read the document last month after the bureau initially refused — sparking a brief push by panel chairman James Comer to hold Mr Wray in contempt, which resulted in the FBI agreeing to allow legislators to read the file in a secure room at the Capitol.
This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission