I read the files on Hunter Biden’s laptop. They paint a sleazy picture of multi-million dollar wire transfers, potential money laundering, and possible tax evasion. They raise serious questions about the judgment and propriety of Jim Biden, the president-elect’s brother, and Joe himself. Call it smoke not fire, but smoke that should not be ignored. The files were supplied to TAC by a known source previously established to have access.
Joe Biden is lucky a coordinated media effort kept Hunter out of the campaign. The FBI has had the laptop since 2019, when they subpoenaed the files in connection with a money laundering investigation. Federal investigators also served a round of subpoenas on December 8, a month after the election, including one for Hunter Biden himself. While the legal thrust of the investigation by the federal prosecutor in Delaware is taxes, the real focus seems to be on Hunter’s Chinese connections. This all comes after the FBI has had over a year to examine some of the same files TAC looked at.
In the final weeks before the election, Hunter’s laptop fell into Republican hands. The story went public in the New York Post, revealing that Hunter Biden introduced his father, then vice president, to a top executive at Ukrainian energy firm Burisma less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company. The meeting is mentioned in a message of appreciation that Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, sent Hunter Biden about a year after Hunter himself joined the Burisma board at a salary of $83,000 a month with no obvious work duties past making such introductions.
Nice work if you can get it, and to get it your dad better be vice president. If all that alone does not meet the test of impropriety, we need a new test. Hunter Biden’s value to clients was his perceived access to the White House. His father Joe was at least a passive participant in the scheme, maybe more than that.
The problem was many Americans never heard this story. Twitter led a social media charge to not allow the information online. After years of salivating over every bit of Trump family gossip, the mainstream media claimed the Biden story did not matter, or was Russian disinfo. Surveys suggest the information could have swung the election if voters had known about it. One survey showed that enough people in battleground states would have changed their votes to give Trump 311 electoral votes and reelection.
No mind, really. As soon as it became clear Joe Biden was going to win, the media on all sides lost interest in the laptop. The story became about the story. It devolved into think pieces about the Orwellian role of social media and some online giggling about the sex tapes on the laptop. But our short attention spans have consequences. The laptop still has a lot to tell us.
Hunter’s laptop was chock-a-block with video that appears to show Hunter smoking crack while engaged in a sex act with a woman, as well as numerous other sexually explicit images. There’s evidence there that Hunter spent money on escorts, some $21,000 on cam sites, big plays on all sorts of depravities. There is also Joe’s car insurance information, Hunter’s SSN, pages of call logs, and lots of email addresses, bank account numbers, and personal information of prominent people. None of the material is encrypted, just dumped on a standard MacBook Pro using the password “Hunter02.” The machine was regularly connected to the internet and might as well have had an electronic sign on it saying “My dad is important, here’s what you’ll need to blackmail me and others to get to him.”
But there is more. The laptop shows Hunter, through a number of front companies, accepted money from Chinese and Ukrainian entities and moved that money to the U.S. where it was parceled out to other entities, including Joe Biden’s brother. Some of it then went back to Chinese hands. There is no way a simple read-through can tell if the money was legal consulting fees or illegal money laundering and tax fraud. But it all smells bad: multi-million dollar transfers to LLCs without employees, residences used as multiple business addresses, legal tricks from Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands, and even a minor CIA connection.
Ask yourself if this demands more investigation. Ask yourself if voters might not have benefited from knowing more about Joe Biden’s side of all this.
The majority of the contents of the laptop are a jumbled record of Hunter’s international business ventures and financial records. Outstanding in the haystack are a large number of wire transfers. Those with traceable addresses appear to be mostly anonymous shell companies run out of lawyers’ offices, with no employees and fuzzy public paper trails. One off the top involved $259,845 traveling on April 2, 2018, from the Hudson West III in New York to a numbered account held by Cathay Bank. Hudson West was created by Hunter Biden’s own law firm, Owasco, with several Chinese nationals, including a Ye Jianming associate, Gong Wendong. Ye Jianming is chairman of CEFC China Energy, who reportedly had close ties to both the Chinese government and the People’s Liberation Army. He’s been arrested in China on corruption charges and has conveniently disappeared.
Biden in August 2018 also returned $100,000 back to CEFC in China via its own New York subsidiary LLC, Hudson West V, whose listed address is 12 Foxwood Road, Great Neck, NY 11024. That address is not a business office but instead a single family home worth over $6 million. Phone records suggest two people live there, including Gong Wendong. Money appears to move from physical China to virtual Hunter back to virtual China in the U.S., starting and ending in accounts tied to Gong Wendong after touching base with Hunter, a potential indicator of laundering. Chinese money in China changed into Chinese money in America. Caution is needed; while what looks like money laundering at first glance may indeed be so, it may be designed to hide the cash from the Chinese government while staying inside American law, a quasi-legal service Hunter possibly supplied.
That 12 Foxwood address shows up again on Biden’s laptop as the mailing address for another Gong Wendong venture, ColdHarbour Capital, which sent and received money to Biden. It is also listed as the residence of Shan Gao, who appears to control accounts in Beijing tied to Hudson, CEFC, and 12 Foxwood.
The most significant appearance of 12 Foxwood was as the mailing address for a secured VISA card in the name of Biden’s company, Hudson West III. The card is funded by someone unnamed through Cathay Bank for $99,000 and guaranteed by someone’s checking account held by Cathay worth $450,000. Shared users of the card are Hunter and Gong Wendong. The card was opened as CEFC secured a stake in a Russian state-owned energy company. Biden and others subsequently used the credit card to purchase $101,291.46 worth of extravagant items, including airline tickets and multiple items at Apple stores, pharmacies, hotels, and restaurants. A Senate report characterized these transactions as “potential financial criminal activity.” Putting money on a secured VISA card in lieu of a direct wire transfer to Biden may be seen by some as an attempt to hide the source of the money and thus allow Biden not to claim it as income.
James Biden and Sara Biden were also authorized users of the credit card, though their business connection to Hunter and Gong Wendong is unclear. Jim is Joe’s brother, Sara his wife. Jim over the years has been a nightclub owner, insurance broker, political consultant, and investor. When he ran into financial trouble having triple mortgaged his home, he was bailed out via loans from Joe and Hunter and by a series of Joe’s donors. Jim also received a loan of $500,000 from John Hynansky, a Ukrainian-American businessman and longtime donor to Joe Biden’s campaigns. This all was in 2015, at the same time the then-vice president oversaw U.S. policy toward the country. As a senator, Joe Biden made use of a private jet owned by Hynansky’s son.
The 12 Foxwood address also appears on millions of dollars worth of bank transfers among Cathay Bank, CEFC, and multiple semi-anonymous LLCs and hedge funds. One single transfer to Hudson West III on August 8, 2017, represented the movement of $5 million from Northern Capital International, which appears to be a Chinese government-owned import-export front company.
Switch over to the CDB Bank folder and you see a wire transfer from Burisma for 36,000 euros, run through a bank in Cyprus, to Biden’s own account on that island. Burisma is the one company from the laptop that made the news. Hunter’s role, what he actually did besides introduce his father to other people, is still unclear.
Burisma must be an interesting place. Hunter’s laptop partially exposes a complex web of sub-companies in Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands such that figuring out who owns who is near impossible. Hunter, speaking to his business partner, speculates about buying a Lithuanian bank to receive the Ukrainian money, and he also notes that Joseph Cofer Black, former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, sits on Burisma’s board. Black previously served as vice chairman at mercenary provider Blackwater Worldwide (now Academi).
All just business, right? Not everyone saw it that way. An email from Wells Fargo’s corporate compliance team (Wells Fargo handled many of the international wire transfers) asks on September 20, 2018, what the actual business of Hudson West is, who its owners are, and where it is located. Also asked is what the purpose of all the incoming wires is. It notes some business accounts appear to be for personal expenses. It also questions numerous outgoing wires to the Lion Hall Group (for example, on September 28, 2018, Hunter ordered $95,000 transferred without explanation), a “business” run by Jim Biden out of a residential address. Jim regularly invoiced Hunter for office expenses and employee costs, as well as a monthly retainer cost of some $68,000, plus other fees in the tens of thousands of dollars.
There is no record of these questions being answered. It is possible to see the disbursal of funds via credit card to Jim Biden as a way to diffuse the amounts away from Hunter, and via Jim’s invoices, a way to convert income from China into deductible business expenses for Hunter in America, reducing his tax burden. The involvement of Lion Hall and Jim Biden also spreads the money around, lowering its profile. If the invoices were shown to be fraudulent (i.e., Jim did not actually consult for Hunter), the potential for tax fraud exists.
Besides Wells Fargo, others also had questions. Hunter’s own CPA, preparing to file 2018 federal taxes, wrote to Hunter asking, “As far as Owasco [Hunter’s law firm] is concerned there were some receipts we classified as loans. Owasco received approximately $550,000 from Burisma and paid about one half this amount to, I believe, someone named ‘Devon.’ I am not sure of the payee… The one half payment to ‘Devon’ was not recorded as income.”
Devon is likely Devon Archer, co-founder and managing partner of Rosemont Capital alongside Hunter. Who else was part of Rosemont? Christopher Heinz, John Kerry’s son. And, small world, Devon Archer sat on the board of Burisma alongside Hunter Biden. The CPA’s concern is that the IRS is sensitive to the fact that some try to conceal income as loans to be written off as expenses later, especially if the amounts are large. This can trigger an audit. If the loans are “forgiven,” then they are income. If not declared, that is potential fraud.
The same note from the CPA indicates Hunter owes $600,000 in personal taxes and another $204,000 for Owasco and urges him to file a return even if he is not going to pay the taxes. Besides taxes, things did not always go well for Hunter. On March 6, 2019, he sent an email to a friend saying, “Buddy do you have a cash app to send me $100 until wire goes. I have no money for gas and I’m literally stuck at a rest stop on 95.” He earlier had sought a $35,000 advance from his regular “draw” out of Owasco. And keep an eye on Hunter’s health—he pays close to $9,000 a quarter for life insurance.
Joe Biden is one lucky S.O.B. When the powers that be decided Barack Obama needed someone a little more, you know, establishment, as his VP to calm voters, there was Joe, as white-bread as the state he represented, vaulted into the White House that had otherwise eluded him. His only controversial points came from having supported the status quo for so many years that it had changed underneath him. Are we tough on crime, or do Black Lives Matter? Didn’t matter to Joe, just point him in the right direction so he knows what to agree with. And so in 2020, when the Democrats realized exactly what kind of man they needed to wipe away the sins of two dishonest and chaotic primaries, well, there was Joe again.
Joe was fortunate that the mainstream media memory-holed Hunter’s story and conservative media lost focus looking for a tweetable smoking gun when the truth was a bit too complicated to parse out in a sentence or two. But there is still a story here.
The short version is there’s a lot to suggest money laundering and tax fraud on Hunter’s part. The purpose of the money in and out was always unclear, with invoices for vague expenses and lots and lots of “consulting.” One could invent a legal explanation for everything. One could imagine many illegal explanations. There is no way anyone could know the difference without seeing Hunter’s taxes, asking him questions, and doing some serious forensic accounting. It is unlikely any of that will happen now that the election is over. Even to Guiliani et al., it really doesn’t matter any more. They took one shot, missed, and walked away.
That will leave undigested the bigger tale of president-elect Biden, who ran in part on an anti-corruption platform following the Trump family escapades. While Joe Biden no doubt regrets what appears to have been a one-off meeting with the Burisma official, he did indeed take the meeting as VP. It’s always easier to apologize when caught than seek permission in advance in Joe’s world.
A 2017 email chain involving Hunter brokering an ultimately failed deal for a new venture with old friend CEFC, the Chinese energy company, described a 10 percent set-aside for the “big guy,” whom former Hunter Biden partner Tony Bobulinski publicly identified as Joe Biden. Joe also took Hunter to China with him on Air Force Two and met with Chinese leaders while Hunter tried to make deals on his own. Joe also had Hunter and partner Devon Archer to the White House only two days before they joined Burisma. It was Joe’s donors and pals who bailed out brother Jim over the years with sweetheart loans.
A lot of appearance of improprietous malarkey from a senior statesman who knows better. In places like China and the Ukraine, where corruption is endemic, it is assumed the sons of rich and powerful men have access to their father and that access is for sale. Hunter Biden traded on those assumptions for millions of dollars, and Joe stood by understanding what was happening. Every father wants to help his son, and Hunter, one can imagine, went to his dad time after time pleading for just one more little favor to get him clear of his sordid past. Joe, a decent man at heart, likely nodded. So a meeting. A handshake. An office visit, a posed photo, whatever would help but was still plausibly deniable. Until the next time. Just one more, Dad. Please?
Joe’s larger role in all things Hunter needs to be questioned. Joe, as well as the Obama State Department, knew about Hunter’s antics. Joe pretended Hunter’s financial windfalls had nothing to do with their relationship and were simply a constant series of coincidental lucky breaks for a ne’er-do-well son who happened to fail upward while his dad was VP. Joe says he and his son never talked about business. Maybe Joe assumed Hunter’s Porsche was just a lucky find (his car payments are on the laptop).
While, of course, Hunter is an adult with his own mind, his father was one of the most powerful men in the world and yet apparently did nothing to stop what was going on among Hunter, his brother Jim, the Chinese, the Ukrainians, and himself—at minimum, the gross appearance of impropriety over a period of years. Biden’s defense has always been sweeping: “My son did nothing wrong.” That alone raises questions of judgment on the part of Joe Biden. Not least because in a few weeks he becomes president of the United States. And if the president does it, it’s not illegal, right?
Peter Van Burenis the author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People,Hooper’s War: A Novel of WWII Japan, and Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the 99 Percent.