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World What was Hunter Biden doing in Ukraine?

23:46  15 october  2020
23:46  15 october  2020 Source:   bbc.com

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President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused the Biden family of wrongdoing in regards to Ukraine while Joe Biden was vice-president, without providing any evidence.

Hunter Biden, Joe Biden are posing for a picture: Vice-President Biden in 2016 with his son Hunter looking on © Getty Images Vice-President Biden in 2016 with his son Hunter looking on

The issue has resurfaced following a New York Post article focused on an alleged email in which an adviser from a Ukrainian energy company apparently thanked Hunter Biden for inviting him to meet his father.

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What was Hunter Biden's work in Ukraine?

Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's second son, was a director on the board of Burisma - a Ukrainian-owned private energy company.

He was one of several foreigners on its board.

The company said his role was to advise on "transparency, corporate governance and responsibility, international expansion and other priorities".

Hunter joined the company in 2014, and remained on the board until April 2019, when he decided to leave.

What are the allegations against the Bidens?

President Trump and his allies allege that Joe Biden - as vice-president - pushed for the Ukrainian government to fire its top prosecutor, who was investigating the company for which Hunter worked.

In 2016, Joe Biden did call for the dismissal of the Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, whose office had Burisma and other companies under investigation.

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However, other Western leaders and major bodies that give financial support to Ukraine also wanted the prosecutor dismissed because they believed he was not active enough in tackling corruption.

What did this have to do with impeachment?

In 2019, details emerged of a phone call President Trump had made to the president of Ukraine, in which he had urged the Ukrainian leader to investigate the Bidens.

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This led to charges by the Democrats that Mr Trump was trying to illegally pressure Ukraine to help damage his election rival, resulting in impeachment by the House of Representatives.

Mr Trump denied he'd done anything wrong, and he was later acquitted by the Republican-controlled US Senate.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Trump holds a copy of The Washington Post the day after the US Senate acquitted him on two articles of impeachment © Getty Images President Trump holds a copy of The Washington Post the day after the US Senate acquitted him on two articles of impeachment

Has anything been proven against the Bidens?

No criminal activity has been proven, and no evidence has emerged that Joe Biden did anything to intentionally benefit his son. But it has raised questions about potential conflicts of interest.

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A senior State Department official raised such concerns as far back as 2015. And last year Hunter Biden admitted he had been guilty of poor judgement.

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US Republican lawmakers launched an investigation and found that Hunter's work for the Ukrainian firm was "problematic" - but there wasn't evidence that US foreign policy was influenced by it.

No criminal charges were proven against Burisma either. The company issued a statement in 2017 saying "all legal proceedings and pending criminal allegations" against it were closed.

Last year, Yuriy Lutsenko, the prosecutor in Ukraine who succeeded Viktor Shokin, told the BBC that there was no reason to investigate the Bidens under Ukrainian law.

There's nothing illegal about sitting on a board of a company whilst family members serve in government, although Hunter Biden now says that serving on the Burisma board may have been "poor judgement".

Joe Biden, Hunter Biden are posing for a picture: Joe Biden walks out of Air Force Two with his granddaughter and son, Hunter Biden © Getty Images Joe Biden walks out of Air Force Two with his granddaughter and son, Hunter Biden

Hunter Biden's lawyers said in statement in October 2019 that he had undertaken "these business activities independently. He did not believe it appropriate to discuss them with his father, nor did he."

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Hunter told the New Yorker magazine that on the only occasion he had mentioned Burisma: "Dad said, 'I hope you know what you are doing.'"

Why have these claims come up now?

An article has appeared in the New York Post focused on an email from April 2015, in which an adviser to Burisma apparently thanked Hunter Biden for inviting him to meet his father in Washington.

It did not provide evidence that the meeting ever took place, and the Biden election campaign has said it did not.

"Investigations by the press, during impeachment, and even by two Republican-led Senate committees whose work was decried as 'not legitimate' and political by a GOP colleague, have all reached the same conclusion: that Joe Biden carried out official US policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing," said Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Mr Biden.

The New York Post article has been shared by President Trump and his allies. Two of his former advisers, Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani, were involved in providing the story and the laptop containing the alleged emails to the newspaper.

Other US media say they have been unable to verify the authenticity of the emails.

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What are the Bidens accused of in China?

President Trump has also called on China to investigate Joe Biden's son's activities there.

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Mr Trump has accused the Bidens of corruption in their political and business dealings in China, without offering any evidence.

Hunter Biden had been on the board of a Shanghai-based private equity fund BHR, but decided to resign in October 2019.

BHR is backed by some of China's largest state banks and by local governments, according to the Financial Times.

Hunter Biden's lawyer said he had joined the board in an unpaid position "based on his interest in seeking ways to bring Chinese capital to international markets".

His lawyer has also said his client did not acquire any financial stake in the BHR fund until 2017, after his father had left office in the US.

  What was Hunter Biden doing in Ukraine? © BBC a drawing of a face © BBC

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