Update below: Chris Heinz disputes claims in this article.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani accused former Vice President Joe Biden of getting paid $900,000 for “lobbying” from the Ukrainian gas firm Burisma. Biden’s son Hunter joined the board of Burisma despite lacking experience in the industry. Biden also pressured Ukraine to oust a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma’s founder, and the investigations were dropped after that prosecutor’s ouster. If Joe Biden personally — albeit indirectly — received such a large sum, this could worsen the scandal by a degree of magnitude.
Yet this explosive allegation may be false. Investigative journalists who have long followed the Hunter Biden-Burisma story have refused to verify the claim that Joe Biden personally received $900,000. The claim traces back to a Russian-owned news outlet in Ukraine. Furthermore, it beggars belief that Joe Biden would be so careless as to accept such funds directly, especially when his son was already receiving a great deal of cash from Burisma.
Biden threatened to withdraw $1 billion in U.S. military aid if then-Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko did not fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, whose office was investigating Burisma. The former vice president claims that the Shokin firing had nothing to do with his son’s employment.
The $900,000 claim traces back to Andriy Derkach, a member of Ukraine’s parliament. Derkach publicized documents that “describe the mechanism of getting money by Biden Sr.” at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine’s press center in Kiev.
“This was the transfer of Burisma Group’s funds for lobbying activities, as investigators believe, personally to Joe Biden through a lobbying company,” Derkach said, according to Interfax-Ukraine, which is owned by Russia. “Funds in the amount of $900,000 were transferred to the U.S.-based company Rosemont Seneca Partners, which according to open sources, in particular, the New York Times, is affiliated with Biden. The payment reference was payment for consultative services.”
Rosemont Seneca Partners was founded by Hunter Biden, his friend Devon Archer, and Chris Heinz, the son of former Sen. John Heinz (D-Pa.) and Teresa Heinz Kerry, who is married to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). Chris Heinz is an heir of the Heinz ketchup fortune. Archer would later introduce Hunter Biden to Burisma before the vice president’s son joined the board.
According to Derkach, the documents he published also showed Burisma funneling cash to Hunter Biden and Archer.
“Using political and economic levelers of influencing Ukrainian authorities and manipulating the issue of providing financial aid to Ukraine, Joe Biden actively assisted closing criminal cases into the activity of former Ukrainian Ecology Minister Mykola Zlochevsky, who is the founder and owner of Burisma Group,” Derkach argued.
In December 2015, Biden engaged in an explicit quid pro quo, threatening to withhold $1 billion in military funding to Ukraine unless then-President Petro Poroshenko fired Shokin. Shokin’s office was running three investigations into Zlochevsky for corruption. Democrats claim that Shokin was not prosecuting the cases against Zlochevsky vigorously enough, but the cases were dropped after he was fired.
Investigative journalist John Solomon had previously reported that banking records show Burisma regularly paid Rosemont Seneca Partners more than $166,000 a month from the spring of 2014 to the fall of 2015, when Biden was the Obama administration’s point person on Ukraine.
Yet the claim that Joe Biden personally received $900,000 goes too far, according to Solomon.
“As for the rumor/story going around about a $900k payment from Burisma to Joe Biden – [Solomon] says he has heard these rumors from Ukraine, but they are not true. He has examined accounting records directly,” journalist Stu Burguiere reported on Twitter.
As for the rumor/story going around about a $900k payment from Burisma to Joe Biden – @jsolomonReports says he has heard these rumors from Ukraine, but they are not true. He has examined accounting records directly.
— Stu Burguiere (@StuDoesAmerica) October 10, 2019
PJ Media reached out to Solomon and to Peter Schweizer, who unearthed multiple scandals involving Hunter Biden in his book Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends. Schweizer could not confirm the story and Solomon did not respond by press time.
While Interfax-Ukraine reported the claim, Derkach did not include it in his press release about the speech and the documents on Wednesday.
“We see the conflict that the new government of Ukraine has got into because of the activity of the previous President Poroshenko,” Derkach lamented in the release. “I want to emphasize that I am practically sure, and not only myself, but also many journalists, that Peter Poroshenko is personally responsible for the situation in which Ukraine finds himself – for involving Ukraine in interfering in the presidential election in the United States, for the huge amount of corruption scandals and international corruption that could not have taken place without his control or involvement.”
“Due to the actions of former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, the new President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has been involved in a scandal with interference in the election of the US President and that Ukraine is accused of international corruption,” Derkach added.
Corruption is rampant in this Eastern European country, and Derkach is making these claims after current President Volodymyr Zelensky — whose story mirrors that of President Donald Trump — has courted a close relationship with Trump. Zelensky was elected after condemning Poroshenko for corruption, and Poroshenko took office after ousting pro-Russian former President Viktor Yanukovych, also accusing him of corruption.
Claims coming from Ukraine should be taken with a very large grain of salt. Politicized accusations of corruption run rampant, and Derkach’s remarks seemed very politically targeted against Poroshenko.
Appearing on Fox News on Wednesday, Giuliani repeated Interfax’s version of Derkach’s remarks.
“You won’t hear this on the news, ladies and gentlemen, because they censor it,” Giuliani said. He quoted the Interfax report, claiming Derkach publicized documents showing “a transfer of funds, as investigators believe, to Joe Biden, through a lobbying company.”
Giuliani is correct that much news benefitting President Trump does seem to get censored by liberal-leaning media outlets. However, in this case, the Interfax report on Derkach’s documents is highly suspect and investigative journalists who have long covered the Hunter Biden scandals have not corroborated it.
Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine need to be investigated, and Joe Biden’s demand that Poroshenko fire Shokin is highly suspect, even if this $900,000 claim is entirely bogus.
Update October 12, 2019 9:22 p.m.:
A spokesman for Chris Heinz reached out to PJ Media to dispute Derkach’s statements as reported by Interfax-Ukraine.
‘The statement by Mr. Derkach is not accurate. Based on public records, the entity that received payments was Rosemont Seneca Bohai, LLC, which is not an affiliate of Rosemont Seneca Partners,” the spokesman told PJ Media.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.