Hunter Biden sought to avoid registering as foreign agent in Chinese business venture, text message shows
Chuck Ross, DCNF
- Hunter Biden wanted to avoid registering as a foreign agent as part of a deal with a Chinese energy company, according to text messages obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
- In a message to Tony Bobulinski on May 1, 2017, Hunter Biden also proposed creating a U.S.-based shell company so that the joint venture could bid on contracts with the U.S. government.
- A day after sending the message, Hunter Biden set up a meeting with his father, Joe Biden, and Bobulinski in Los Angeles.
- He claims that Joe Biden is referenced as an equity shareholder in early documents for the Chinese business deal.
Hunter Biden suggested setting up a shell company to do business with a Chinese firm in order to avoid registering as a foreign agent, and to be able to bid on contracts with the U.S. government, according to documents from May 2017 obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
A day after sending the message, Biden arranged a meeting between his father, Joe Biden, and Tony Bobulinski, one of the prospective partners in a deal with CEFC China Energy, a Chinese conglomerate whose chairman had links to the communist regime in Beijing.
“We don’t want to have to register as foreign agents under the FCPA which is much more expansive than people who should know choose not to know,” Hunter Biden wrote to Bobulinski on May 1, 2017, according to a message obtained by the DCNF.
“No matter what it will need to be a US company at some level in order for us to make bids on federal and state funded projects.”
Biden appeared to be referring to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) as well as the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
Biden did not explain in the messages why he thought the venture with CEFC would violate FARA or FCPA without the buffer of a U.S. shell company.
A report from the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee released on Sept. 23 regarding Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings said that CEFC’s chairman at the time, Ye Jianming, had ties to the People’s Liberation Army.
Ye had also been an officer in the 2000s for a group controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, according to the Senate report.
On May 2, 2017, a day after the text message, Hunter Biden arranged a meeting between Bobulinski, James Biden and Joe Biden in Los Angeles.
Bobulinski said at a press conference on Thursday that the meeting lasted an hour. He also said that the meeting undercut Joe Biden’s past claims to have never discussed business with his son.
“That is false,” Bobulinski said of Joe Biden’s previous statements.
“I have firsthand knowledge about this because I directly dealt with the Biden family, including Joe Biden.”
Bobulinski said that during the May 2017 meeting, he and the Bidens discussed “the Biden’s family business plans with the Chinese.”
He said that Joe Biden was “plainly familiar” with those plans “at a high level.”
Text messages preserved by Bobulinski show him discussing the meeting with Hunter and James Biden.
Bobulinski has provided emails, text messages and business records related to the CEFC deal to the Senate Homeland Security Committee. He also met Friday with the FBI, according to Sen. Ron Johnson, who chairs the committee.
The DCNF has also obtained Bobulinski’s trove of records.
Bobulinski, Hunter Biden, James Biden and two other partners, James Gilliar and Rob Walker, went on to form companies called SinoHawk and Oneida Holdings to partner with CEFC.
Documents from the Bobulinski trove show that Oneida Holdings was formed on May 22, 2017, three weeks after Hunter Biden proposed using a U.S. company to do business with CEFC.
According to Bobulinski, CEFC was expected to fund the partnership with SinoHawk with $10 million in seed money to begin investing in infrastructure and technology companies.
He said Thursday that CEFC never followed through with the investment. Emails and text messages from Bobulinski show him hounding CEFC executives about the delayed wire transfer.
Hunter and James Biden ended up working with CEFC, though Bobulinski said on Thursday that he was unaware of the side deal.
In the Aug. 3, 2017, email, Bobulinski provided a letter responding to a list of questions from CEFC about the joint venture with SinoHawk. One question from CEFC was about a $5 million interest-free loan the company was making to the Biden family.
The next day, without Bobulinski’s knowledge, CEFC made the first in a series of wire transfers to a law firm for Hunter Biden.
According to the Senate report, a subsidiary of CEFC China Energy called CEFC Infrastructure Investment wired $100,000 to Hunter Biden’s law firm, Owasco.
The report also says that the wire payment “was identified for potential criminal financial activity.”
On Aug. 8, 2017, according to the Senate report, the CEFC affiliate wired $5 million to a bank account for a shell company called Hudson West III.
That shell company, which Hunter Biden co-owned with an associate of Ye Jianming, would end up wiring $4,790,375 to Hunter Biden’s law firm through Sept. 25, 2018, according to the report.
Hunter and James Biden also tapped into a $100,000 line of credit linked to Hudson West III and CEFC, the Senate report said.
Bobulinski confronted James Biden about revelations in the Senate report, according to his records.
“You can imagine my shock when reading the report yesterday put out by the Senate committee,” Bobulinski wrote to James Biden on Sept. 24.
“The fact that you and HB were lying to Rob, James and I while accepting $5 million from CeFc is infuriating,” Bobulinksi wrote.
“And so disappointing based on the years of work that James, Rob and team invested to get things done,” he continued, referring to James Gilliar and Rob Walker, the two other SinoHawk partners.
Other documents from the Bobulinski documents raise questions about whether Joe Biden was a passive investor in the CEFC partnership.
A May 13, 2017 email written by Gilliar, the SinoHawk partner, makes reference to a 10% equity stake that Hunter Biden would hold for “the big guy.”
Bobulinski said Thursday that “the big guy” is Joe Biden, and that Hunter Biden often referred to his father by that term.
Joe Biden was never listed on any business records for SinoHawk or Oneida Holdings, though messages from the Bobulinski trove show that the partners discussed keeping Joe Biden’s name hidden during business discussions.
“Don’t mention Joe being involved, it’s only when u are face to face, I know u know that but they are paranoid,” Gilliar told Bobulinski in a text message on May 20, 2017.
“They should be paranoid about things,” Bobulinski replied.
The Biden campaign denied in a statement on Thursday that Joe Biden ever invested in his son’s companies.
“Joe Biden has never even considered being involved in business with his family, nor in any overseas business whatsoever. He has never held stock in any such business arrangements nor has any family member or any other person ever held stock for him,” said Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.
The campaign did not address questions about Biden’s meeting with Bobulinski, according to The Journal.
A lawyer for Hunter Biden did not respond to a request for comment.