Memos: State Department reported Burisma paid bribe while Hunter Biden served on board

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State Department reported Burisma paid bribe while Hunter Biden served on board, memos show State, DOJ officials reported to FBI concerns Ukraine gas firm made bribe to local prosecutors while under corruption investigation. Just eight months after Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter joined the board of Burisma Holdings, U.S. officials in Kiev developed evidence that the Ukrainian gas company may have paid a $7 million bribe to the local prosecutors investigating the firm for corruption, according to interviews and State Department memos. State officials believed the alleged bribe was paid between May and December 2014 and got confirmation from one prosecutor. They argued the bribe amounted to a "gross miscarriage of justice that undermined months of US assistance" to fight corruption in Ukraine, contemporaneous memos show. The concerns were eventually reported to the FBI, although it is not clear whether the allegations were ever investigated more fully, according to current and former U.S. and Ukrainian government officials. The anecdote, buried in five-year-old diplomatic files, provides a fresh illustration of the awkward, uncomfortable conflict of interest State officials perceived as they tried to fight pervasive corruption in Ukraine under Joe Biden's leadership while the vice president's son collected large payments as a board member for an energy firm widely viewed as corrupt. The concerns first came to a head in January 2015, the memos show, about eight months after Hunter Biden was named to Burisma's board and after two major corruption investigations — one in Ukraine and the other in Britain — were opened against the gas firm. George Kent, then a State Department official newly sent to the U.S. embassy in Kiev to lead anti-corruption efforts, was concerned the bribery allegations surrounding Prosecutor General Vitaly Yarema were credible enough that he sought a meeting with one of Yarema's deputies to demand action, according to State Department memos. His concern was triggered when Yarema took action over the Christmas 2014 holidays to undercut both the British and Ukraine investigations of Burisma and its founder Mykola Zlochevsky, and the U.S. embassy received word a $7 million bribe had changed hands, State memos show. The Feb. 3, 2015 meeting involved Kent, one of Yarema's top deputies, Anatoliy Danylenko, as well as the DOJ's liaison in Ukraine, Jeffrey Cole, memos show. It was arranged by Andrii Telizhenko, an English-speaking mid-level Ukrainian government official long trusted by the Obama administration in Kiev and Washington to facilitate contacts between the two countries. "No problem, works for us. I'll get you the names soonest. Likely George and Jeff Cole. Will confirm later," U.S. embassy official Gregory W. Pfleger wrote Telizhenko in a lengthy Jan. 31, 2015 email chain that arranged the location, date and attendees for the meeting for three days later.

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