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16 Feb, 2024 14:05

FBI informant charged with lying about Biden bribes

Federal prosecutors argue that the US president and his son did not receive $5 million from a Ukrainian energy company
FBI informant charged with lying about Biden bribes

An FBI informant has been charged with falsely claiming to his handlers that US President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, took a multimillion-dollar bribe from a Ukrainian energy firm. The informant’s claims came amid a torrent of corruption allegations against the Bidens.

The informant, Alexander Smirnov, told FBI agents in 2020 that Hunter and Joe Biden received $5 million each from Burisma Holdings for “protection” while Biden Snr. was serving as US vice president and his son was sitting on the firm’s board. Smirnov claimed that he learned this information from a phone call with Burisma’s owner.

Smirnov’s allegations were relayed to Republican lawmakers last May, and helped bolster the GOP’s ongoing impeachment inquiry against the president.

Federal prosecutors argue that the claims were “fabrications,” and Smirnov was charged on Thursday with making a false statement and creating a fictitious record. He appeared in court in Las Vegas after the indictment against him was unsealed, and declined to enter a plea.

In a press release, the US Justice Department described Smirnov’s business contacts with Burisma as “routine and unextraordinary,” and that he made his bribery allegations “after expressing bias against” Biden’s presidential campaign in 2020.

Although prosecutors claim that Smirnov’s allegations were untrue, a host of documents and witness testimony suggest that Burisma appointed Hunter Biden to its board in order to influence US policy and shield itself from prosecution in Ukraine.

Hunter’s former business partner, Devon Archer, told the Republican-led House Oversight Committee in July that Burisma hired the younger Biden to boost its “brand” with potential clients. Archer claimed that Hunter would place his father on speakerphone during meetings with Burisma’s clients to demonstrate the company’s connections, and that Hunter asked his father to ensure that Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin was sacked during one of these meetings.

Archer and Shokin – who was investigating Burisma at the time – have both claimed that Joe Biden took money from Burisma to orchestrate Shokin’s dismissal in 2016. Joe Biden has admitted responsibility for Shokin’s firing, but denied ever taking bribes. In a 2018 interview, Biden boasted that while on a trip to Kiev in 2015, he threatened to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees from then-Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko unless Shokin was fired. “Well, son of a bitch, he got fired,” Biden said.

While Joe Biden has denied any knowledge of his son’s foreign business dealings, files found on Hunter Biden’s laptop suggest that the elder Biden emailed his son’s business associates 54 times while he was vice president. They also indicate that he received around $24 million in payments through shell companies from business figures and politicians in China, Kazakhstan, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine during this time.

In a statement on Thursday, the House Oversight Committee said that the prosecution of Smirnov would not deter its impeachment inquiry. “We have over $30 million reasons to continue this investigation,” the committee said, alleging that Biden’s bank records prove that he was involved in foreign graft schemes.