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For at least seven years, many when his father was vice president, Hunter Biden pursued a lucrative deal to run an investment firm founded by millions of dollars from a Chinese partnership.
Joe Biden claims he never spoke with Hunter about his dealings, and never profited from any group his family set up, but e-mails and text messages found on Hunter Biden’s old laptop hard drive — first published by The Post — show “the big guy” being referenced repeatedly. A federal investigation into Hunter is ongoing, and Republicans vow to continue to probe how Hunter profited off his father’s name, and what President-elect Biden knew about it.
“I’m not going to turn a blind eye on this,” Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) said last week. “We’ll keep digging.”
Based on information from the laptop and interviews, here’s what we know about the Chinese deal:
As the Obama-Biden administration hit the halfway point of its inaugural year, Hunter Biden co-founded Rosemont Seneca Partners, an investment fund, along with Christopher Heinz — the stepson of Obama’s future Secretary of State John Kerry — and Devon Archer, a former Kerry adviser.
April 7-9, 2010
Hunter Biden visited China as a Rosemont Seneca rep during the second year of his father’s vice presidency. There he gained audiences with top officials of influential state-linked enterprises including the Postal Savings Bank, China Investment Corp., and Founder Group. He was joined on the trip by James Bulger, the politically connected co-founder of the Thornton Group, an Asia-oriented financial services firm.
As Joe Biden ran for his second term as vice president, Hunter Biden and Devon Archer made contact with Chinese financier Jonathan Li, who ran the private-equity fund Bohai Capital. The trio discussed a plan to become partners in a new operation that would invest Chinese cash in ventures outside the country. Eighty percent of the resulting company, Bohai Harvest, was controlled by Chinese state-owned interests.
When Chinese president Xi Jinping alarmed the rest of Asia with an aggressive expansion of his military claims over the East China Sea, Vice President Biden was dispatched to Beijing to try to de-escalate tensions. The second son tagged along on Air Force Two. While a somber and subdued Joe Biden held a marathon five-hour meeting with Xi, Hunter got together with Jonathan Li in what handlers at the time described as a social visit. The son even arranged for a handshake between Li and his father at the hotel of the American delegation — troubling some of the vice president’s advisors, according to the New Yorker. Ten days later, the Chinese business license for Bohai Harvest — the company that Hunter Biden and Devon Archer had been trying to launch for more than a year — was approved.
Around this time Hunter Biden’s relationship to Chinese tycoon Ye Jianming “began to ramp up,” according to a Senate report released in September. Ye, the founder of Chinese energy giant CEFC, served as the nation’s unofficial energy liaison to Russia.
Feb. 23 and March 1, 2017
A month after Biden left office, a total of $6 million in wire transfers were made from State Energy HK Ltd., a company controlled by Ye, to Robinson Walker LLC. That company was controlled by Rob Walker, a longtime business partner of Hunter’s who had collaborated with him in at least three other companies. Walker served in both Bill Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s administrations — and his wife, Betsy Massey Walker, is reportedly a former member of future First Lady’s Jill Biden’s personal staff. The Senate’s joint Finance Committee and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee report said it was “unclear what the true purpose is behind these transactions and who the ultimate beneficiary is.”
May 2-3, 2017
Venture capitalist Tony Bobulinski was recruited by the Bidens around this time to serve as CEO of Sinohawk Holdings, which he describes as a partnership between Ye’s CEFC and the Biden family. Bobulinski met twice with Joe Biden at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, where the former veep was set to give a speech. Hunter, Bobulinski told The Post, “brings Joe over and introduces me, saying [Joe’s] the one who’s helping us with the business we’re doing with the Chinese.” Biden responded, “I trust you. Good luck and work hard” — and added a second instruction the next morning: “Keep an eye on my son and [brother Jim Biden] and look out for my family.”
Joe Biden has repeatedly denied any knowledge of his son’s business operation. In September 2020 he told reporters emphatically, “I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.”
May 11, 2017
James Gilliar, another Hunter Biden business associate, talked with Bobulinski about how to “get Joe involved” in a joint venture with CEFC. The two discussed ways to make the effort look like a “truly family business” in a series of text messages seen by The Post. “Let’s get the company set up, then tell H and family the high stakes and get Joe involved,” Gilliar wrote. The texts were contained in a tranche of emails and documents released by Bobulinski.
May 13, 2017
Gilliar emailed Hunter Biden to outline remuneration packages for Hunter and five other people in an unspecified business venture. The email — found on the Hunter Biden laptop and exposed in a bombshell report by The Post — suggested equity shares were being assigned to Biden family members, with a note indicating that 10% would be held by Hunter “for the big guy” — who Bobulinski later definitively identified as Joe Biden. Three days later, Bobulinski says, the plans changed: Joe Biden’s 10% share would be held in the name of his brother Jim instead.
Bobulinski voiced his doubts about the wisdom of Joe Biden’s involvement to Jim Biden, in light of his brother’s political stature.
“I remember saying, ‘How are you guys getting away with this? Aren’t you concerned?’” Bobulinski said in an interview with The Post’s Michael Goodwin.
“‘Plausible deniability,’” Jim Biden responded with a chuckle, Bobulinski recalled.
May 20, 2017
“Don’t mention Joe being involved, it’s only when u are face to face, I know u know that but they are paranoid,” Gilliar instructed Bobulinksi in an encrypted WhatsApp message thread. In response, Bobulinksi wrote, “OK they should be paranoid about things.” Later, Bobulinski added what seemed to be a warning about Joe Biden’s future political plans: “You need to stress to H, does he want to be the reason or factor that blows up his dad’s campaign.” The former veep was still two years away from announcing his third White House bid.
June 18, 2017
Hunter Biden made an urgent request to Ye Jianming to wire him $10 million as seed money for a new venture, SinoHawk Holdings, according to an email obtained by The Post. In the missive he said he was extending “best wishes from the entire Biden family” and that “We are all hoping to see you here again soon, or in Shanghai.”
Hunter met with Ye in Miami to solicit donations for World Food Program USA, according to the Senate report. Over dinner, they discussed details of helping the Chinese magnate find investments for CEFC in the United States. Afterward, Ye sent him a 2.8-carat diamond as a thank-you gift. “I just felt like it was weird,” Hunter later told The New Yorker — but he accepted the gem. The rock later become a bone of contention in divorce proceedings between Hunter Biden and first wife Kathleen Buhle.
Aug 1, 2017
A hand-drawn flow chart included in the Senate report shows an ownership breakdown of an entity called “Hudson West” with a 50/50 split between Biden and someone identified only as “chairman.” An email sent the next day strongly suggests the “chairman” in question was Ye Jianming — and notes that while Hunter was to have earned $10 million a year “for introductions alone,” those earlier terms had been changed “TO A MUCH MORE LASTING AND LUCRATIVE ARRANGEMENT.”
Aug. 8, 2017
Ye’s CEFC wired $5 million to Hudson West. That same day, the company began a year-long series of payments to Owasco, Hunter Biden’s law firm, that would total $4.79 million, the Senate report found. Owasco subsequently sent $1.4 million — parceled out in 20 different wire transfers — to the Lion Hall Group, a consulting firm controlled by James Biden and his wife, Sara Biden.
Sept. 21, 2017
Hunter Biden emailed the Washington office building House of Sweden to request a set of keys for Rosemont Seneca offices be produced for Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Jim Biden and Gongwen Dong — all of whom were described as “office mates,” according to another email. Hunter Biden also noted that Gongwen Dong was an “emissary” for CEFC and Ye.
Chi Ping Patrick Ho, a Ye lieutenant, agreed to pay Hunter Biden a $1 million retainer for “Counsel to matters related to US law and advice pertaining to the hiring and legal analysis of any US Law Firm or Lawyer,” according to an attorney engagement letter obtained by The Post.
A Manhattan federal jury convicted Ho for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by trying to bribe government officials in Africa. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
The Department of Justice opens a probe into Hunter Biden’s tax affairs, business ties in China and the Ukraine and documents covering his involvement in more than two dozen entities, according to a Dec. 13, 2020 report by the Associated Press. At least one 2017 email notes Hunter Biden failed to disclose $400,000 in income he earned while on the board of the Ukrainian Energy company Burisma.
Ye Jianming vanishes in China amid suspicions of “economic crimes.”
April 12, 2019
Hunter Biden left a waterlogged laptop at a Delaware computer repair store owned by John Paul Mac Isaac seeking repairs. The computer bore a sticker for the Beau Biden Foundation, named for his deceased brother. Hunter Biden never returned for the machine, however, and Mac Isaac said after repeated attempts to contact Hunter failed, he legally took possession of it under terms of the repair contract.
April 25, 2019
Joe Biden announced he’s running for president.
Dec. 9, 2019
The FBI issued a subpoena for the Hunter Biden laptop after they are informed of its existence by Mac Isaac, who was “concerned” about what he saw on its hard drive. “I just don’t know … what I’m allowed to say,” Isaac explained months later. “I know that I saw, I saw stuff. And I was concerned. I was concerned that somebody might want to come looking for this stuff eventually and I wanted it out of my shop.” Along with business emails, the device contained numerous explicit self-taken photos and videos of Hunter Biden having sex and doing what appeared to be drugs.