Senator asks DOJ if Hunter Biden’s Chinese business deals complied with foreign agent registration law
Chuck Ross, DCNF
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley called on the Justice Department Tuesday to assess whether Hunter Biden and his uncle, James Biden, should have registered as foreign agents of China for their work with a Chinese energy firm.
According to a Senate report released in September, the Chinese company, CEFC China Energy, wired Hunter Biden at least $5 million from August 2017 through October 2018 to help develop investment deals for the company in the U.S. and other countries.
CEFC also paid Biden’s law firm $1 million in March 2018 to represent Dr. Patrick Ho, a former CEFC executive who was indicted for bribery related to business deals in Africa.
CEFC’s former chairman, Ye Jianming, reportedly has links to the Chinese Communist Party and was an official with a group tied to the People’s Liberation Army.
James Biden, who is the younger brother to President-elect Joe Biden, worked with Hunter Biden on the CEFC project, according to emails obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
In a letter to Attorney General William Barr, Sen. Grassley asserted that CEFC was “an extension of the Chinese government,” and that the firm intended to influence U.S. policy and public opinion on behalf of Beijing.
“CEFC was the perfect vehicle to bring financial benefits to the communist regime under the guise of a private sector company,” Grassley wrote to Barr.
“CEFC is clearly a foreign principal as defined by FARA [Foreign Agents Registration Act] and Hunter Biden’s and James Biden’s work for CEFC directly benefitted the communist Chinese government thereby making them potential agents of that government.”
Grassley asked Barr to disclose any investigation into whether Biden should register under FARA, or whether he was ever notified that he should register under the law.
The Justice Department requires agents of foreign governments or foreign entities linked to a foreign government to register under FARA. Few FARA cases had been prosecuted until the Trump era. Prosecutors have indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig, former business partners of Michael Flynn, and others under the law.
Hunter Biden appears to have been aware that his work with CEFC may require FARA registration.
Hunter Biden sent a text message to Tony Bobulinksi, a prospective business partner on the CEFC deal, saying that he wanted to avoid registering as a foreign agent, as well as avoid running up against the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
“We [sic] 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 Bobulinksi on May 1, 2017 in a message obtained by the DCNF.
Bobulinski said he has turned over his emails, texts and other CEFC-related documents to the Senate Homeland Security Committee and the FBI.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reported that the FBI obtained Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Patrick Ho, the CEFC executive, based on suspicions that he was working covertly on behalf of a foreign country.
Ho was sentenced to 30 months in prison in his bribery case.
A lawyer for Hunter Biden did not respond to a request for comment.