On December 6, 2015, Joe Biden ordered Ukraine President Petr Poroshenko to fire Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, threatening to withhold $1 billion in US aid to the Poroshenko government if he did not do so.
The media has propagated a fictional account of why Biden demanded Shokin’s firing, and that account has been repeated over and over again to the point that it is now conventional wisdom. The reason for the fictional account was to provide a rationalization for Joe Biden’s demand that appeared to support a crackdown on corrupt Ukrainian oligarchs by blaming Viktor Shokin for inaction and thereby justifying Biden’s demand that he be fired.
That story is a lie. It was a cover story offered to divert attention from the fact that Joe Biden demanded the firing of Shokin so that an allegedly corrupt Ukraine oligarch could be quietly exonerated, which was a plan all along because the Oligarch in question was paying Hunter Biden nearly $1 million a year for the benefit of having access to such influence. And we now know that Hunter Biden was the frontman for illicit streams of income going to several members of the Biden family, including Joe Biden himself.
The cover story has been fashioned over time as Joe Biden’s actions have come under more scrutiny. It begins with the freezing of $23 million in an account held by Burisma Holdings at PNB Paribas Bank in London on April 16, 2014.
By 2014 Burisma had become a leading producer of natural gas in Ukraine, holding lease rights or ownership of three of the most lucrative natural gas fields in Ukraine. Burisma was owned by Nikolay Zlochevskyi, a wealthy Ukraine businessman who had been in and out of Ukraine government positions for more than a decade, and at one time held a Minister’s position overseeing all Ukraine’s natural resources, including energy. Controversy had surrounded him for more than a decade over the fact that Burisma managed to acquire some of its leases to national gas resources on government property while he served in that capacity. But over the course of that decade, there were many efforts in Ukraine Administrations through the Ukraine courts to strip Burisma of the holdings – all unsuccessful.
In February 2014, the “Orange Revolution” drove pro-Russian “Party of Regions” President Yanukovych from office in Ukraine, and new elections were set for May 25, 2014. On April 21, 2014, Joe Biden visited Ukraine, and announced anti-corruption aid and technical assistance to help boost Ukraine’s energy output.
Not known publicly at that time, on April 14, 2014, Burisma had made Hunter Biden a member of its Board of Directors.
The Order of the British court freezing the $23 million in a Burisma account came about at the request of the UK’s “Serious Fraud Office” (SFO). Burisma’s CFO had sent instructions to BNP Paribas to transfer the funds to an account at a bank in Cyprus. The Orange Revolution had financial authorities in the West closely monitoring movements of funds connected to Ukraine businesses or individuals. The transfer request caused the SFO to request the UK Court to freeze the assets until the request could be investigated. Without notice to Burisma, the freeze on the funds in the account was ordered on April 16, 2014. Eventually, in January 2015, the UK Court – at the request of the SFO – released the hold on the funds, and the money was transferred to a Cyprus bank as had been previously requested.
The story that has been told in the media is that Prosecutor General Shokin did not adequately cooperate with an investigation in the UK, and the result of his failures was that the UK Court was forced to release the funds. Joe Biden seized on the story that Shokin was corrupt and therefore was to blame for the failure to crack down on corrupt Ukraine oligarchs who had looted Ukraine natural resources under the Yanukovych government. The “proof” was Shokin’s failure to cooperate in the UK investigation of Burisma and its owner between April 2014 when the funds were frozen, and January 2015 when the UK court ordered the funds released due to insufficient documentary evidence provided by the Ukraine Prosecutor General. During his visit to Ukraine on December 6, 2015 – 11 months AFTER the funds were released by the UK Court, Biden demanded that Shokin to be fired, or the Poroshenko government would face the possible loss of $1 billion in US aid to Ukraine if that didn’t happen. Poroshenko obliged, and Shokin was fired.
The cover story is a lie. Shokin was fired because Burisma wanted him fired. Shokin’s replacement met with Burisma’s attorneys, and “resolved” all outstanding matters that Bursima and its owner Zlochevskyi from the time before the Poroshenko government took office
Here is the timeline for what actually happened leading up to Biden getting Shokin fired.
On March 11 and 25, 2014, Burisma’s CFO sent instructions to PNB Paribas to transfer the funds in the accounts to another bank in Cyprus. The request triggered the UK’s “Serious Fraud Office” (SFO) inquiry as Burisma was already on the radar of governmental entities tracking financial misconduct out of Ukraine.
April 16, 2014: The SFO applied for and was granted by a UK Court the order freezing the funds in the Burisma accounts at PNB Paribas based on a suspicion they were the product of money laundering activity by Zlochevskyi.
According to UK Court records in the case, between December 19, 2012, and August 6, 2014, five separate investigations of Zlochevskyi were opened by the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, but none of the five progressed to the point where evidence of wrongdoing was discovered that would have required the Prosecutor General to advise Zlochevskyi that he was suspected of crimes, which was the procedure employed under Ukrainian law. The records showed that search warrants were executed in April and May 2014, but that does not mean sufficient evidence discovered to make Zlochevskyi a criminal suspect.
UK Court records reflect that a three-day hearing on the $23 million was held from December 3 to December 5, 2014. Burisma was represented by British Solicitors (British trial attorneys) who pressed the Court to order the SFO at the end of the second day to produce further records that it was withholding. The SFO denied that it was withholding any such records. However, on December 5 the SFO concluded there were a small number of documents that should have been disclosed, and disclosure was then made. Based on those records, the SFO stated that it agreed that Burisma’s funds should be released. After the Court had a chance to review the newly produced documents, the Court concluded that there is no need for any further hearing, and on January 21, 2015, ordered the funds to be released.
At all times while this case played out in the UK, the Ukraine Prosecutor General was Vitaly Yarema, who had been appointed by President Poroshenko on June 19, 2014, just after assuming the Presidency. To the extent there was any failure – which is a question – by the Prosecutor General’s office to cooperate with the UK Court, it was the fault of Yarema.
On February 10, 2015 — AFTER the UK Court matter was concluded — Yarema was fired and Viktor Shokin was named to replace him.
It was ten months later when Joe Biden traveled to Ukraine and demanded that SHOKIN be fired for being insufficiently aggressive in going after corrupt oligarchs.
The media took up this “false flag” campaign because Biden and the Obama Administration needed someone to blame and deflect attention away from Hunter Biden. The media was fed the story about Shokin being ineffective and corrupt, and Joe Biden was a crusader for cracking down on Ukraine oligarchs.
But the TRUTH was that Zlochevskyi was allowed to avoid prosecution because of Hunter Biden’s position on the Burisma board, Joe Biden’s promises of aid to Ukraine, and due to the efforts of a US-based attorney connected to the very top of the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice.
As noted above, Burisma was represented in the UK Court matter by UK Solicitors. But Burisma was assisted in that regard by attorney John Buretta from the New York firm Cravath, Swaine, & Moore.
Shortly before taking on the Burisma matter, Buretta had been in the Obama Administration DOJ, where he was the “Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General” for the Criminal Division — meaning he was the No. 2 in the DOJ’s Criminal Division for part of the second term of the Obama Administration. The Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division until 2013 was Lanny Breuer, a very important Democrat operative in DOJ, and a former senior official in the Clinton Administration.
Lanny Breuer joined the Clinton White House Counsel’s Office and defended the Clinton White House and President Clinton in the congressional and DOJ investigations into the fundraising practices of the 1996 Clinton campaign. He also defended Clinton in the various independent counsel matters, including Ken Starr’s Whitewater investigation. During the impeachment proceedings against Clinton, he defended the President in the impeachment hearings in the House and during the impeachment trial in the Senate.
Buretta was Breuer’s No. 2 and the Chief of Staff for the Criminal Division, overseeing 600 Trial Attorneys. That means Buretta was the immediate supervisor of Andrew Weissman when he was Chief of the Fraud Section of Criminal Division. And, they had both previously been Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Eastern District of New York.
Buretta gave an interview on February 1, 2017, in which he detailed the UK SFO case involving the $23 million in frozen funds. Keep in mind that Buretta worked for Burisma and Zlochevskyi, so you would expect him to provide an accounting of the case that is favorable to Zlochevskyi. But his comments are backed up by the decision of the UK Court releasing the funds:
Q: Why were the cases against Nikolay Zlochevskyi in Ukraine closed? And, what is the relevance of the 2015 decision by the UK criminal court?
A: The U.K. Central Criminal Court held a formal hearing during December 3-5, 2014, and considered voluminous evidence presented by the U.K. Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and by Mr. Zlochevskyi. The evidence included thousands of pages of material produced by Ukrainian authorities at the request of the SFO, relevant documents produced by financial institutions, and affidavits, and a large volume of documents produced on behalf of Mr. Zlochevskyi. In January 2015, the U.K. Central Criminal Court, in a lengthy written decision, concluded that there was no reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Zlochevskyi’s assets were unlawfully acquired as a result of misconduct while he served in public office. In addition, the U.K. court found that the SFO materially and significantly failed to disclose relevant documents favorable to Mr. Zlochevskyi.
In August 2014, the Office of the Prosecutor General (PGO) opened a criminal proceeding as to the same matters adjudicated by the U.K. Central Criminal Court. With regard to the PGO’s investigation, Mr. Zlochevskyi produced voluminous materials addressing the allegations, as he had before the U.K. Central Criminal Court. Over the next two years, the PGO matter was open, no evidence was presented supporting any claim that Mr. Zlochevskyi had abused his position while in public office. In September 2016, the Pechersk District Court of the City of Kyiv concluded that no criminal procedures should be taken against Mr. Zlochevskyi. In other words, the Pechersk District Court reached the same conclusion as the U.K. Central Criminal Court.
Q: Did you meet Yuriy Lutsenko personally?
A: I met with numerous PGO personnel, including Prosecutor General Lutsenko. I conveyed that Mr. Zlochevskyi had provided voluminous evidence to the PGO with respect to his assets, that a U.K. court had also analyzed a large volume of evidence and found no reasonable basis to conclude that there had been any wrongdoing, expressed Mr. Zlochevskyi’s willingness to cooperate with Ukrainian authorities and noted that the PGO had presented no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Zlochevskyi. I took the same approach on this matter that I would take on a similar matter before any law enforcement authority or court.
Yuriy Lutsenko replaced Viktor Shokin as the Prosecutor General after Shokin was fired following the demand by Joe Biden.
One of the emails released by the New York Post is one to Hunter Biden from a Burisma official in mid-November 2015. The email concerned the contract for Burisma’s hiring of Blue Star Strategies, a Washington DC PR firm headed by two Clinton Administration officials – including Karen Tramontano, who was Deputy White House Chief of Staff – to help with its Ukraine problems. Blue Star Strategies coordinated its efforts in that regard with Buretta.
Joe Biden’s visit to Ukraine on December 6 was a Sunday. On December 2, the Thursday before he departed, Tramontano participated in a conference call among Obama Administration officials finalizing the agenda for Biden’s visit to Ukraine coming up in just four days, and the policy issues that were going to be addressed there.
A FIRM ON THE PAYROLL OF BURISMA PARTICIPATED IN PLANNING JOE BIDEN’S TRIP DURING WHICH JOE BIDEN DEMANDED SHOKIN BE FIRED.
And that’s exactly what happened.
Once Shokin was gone – and could be “publicly” blamed for the failure to bring Zlochevskyi to justice — Zlochevskyi’s American “fixer” attorney, with strong connections to the top leadership in the US Department of Justice, was able to meet with Shokin’s successor, and “convince” him that Zlochevskyi did nothing wrong.
The Ukraine government was happy to agree since that made Hunter Biden’s position on the Burisma board pay off for him, and Hunter Biden being happy made Joe Biden happy.
NOBODY really cared about Zlochevskyi and his $23 million. The only thing that truly mattered was that there be a “story” behind which to hide that fact that Hunter Biden’s board position, for which Zlochevskyi paid him millions of dollars over five years, led to Burisma’s money released and Zlochevskyi getting off the hot seat — all without Joe Biden’s fingerprints being too obvious.
Zlochevskyi had fled Ukraine in December 2014 fearing he was about to be arrested given the proceedings taking place in the UK Court. After Buretta’s efforts with Shokin’s successor, Zlochevskyi returned to Ukraine in February 2018.
The scorecard tells the tale:
- Burisma got its $23 million moved from the UK to Cyprus — meaning Zlochevskyi could access his money anonymously.
- Hunter Biden showed he could “deliver” US influence from the Obama Administration for Burisma’s benefit.
- Joe Biden became a champion for Ukraine’s domestic natural gas production industry — of which Burisma was the leading provider — announcing aid packages from the Obama Administration to aid in increasing production.
- Former Obama DOJ attorney Buretta “persuaded” Shokin’s successor to not continue to pursue corruption charges against Zlochevskyi personally, allowing him to return to Ukraine.
- Viktor Shokin is left holding a bag of excrement with a sign hung around his neck by Joe Biden that Shokin was corrupt and in the pocket of Ukraine oligarchs.
Hunter got paid.
Hunter paid Joe.
Shipwreckedcrew has 22 years as a federal prosecutor; six years in private practice. Follow on Twitter @shipwreckedcrew