Ukrainian law enforcement have intercepted a $6 million cash bribe to stop the authorities from investigating Mykola Zlochevsky, the chieftain of Burisma Holdings.
Burisma is the natural-gas company that is the center of a still-unresolved influence-peddling scandal involving Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. In 2016, then-Vice President Biden forced Ukraine to sack the prosecutor who was investigating the company and wanted to question young Biden about it.
Zlochevsky was the target of that investigation as well.
Authorities say the bribe has nothing to do with the Biden boys, the Associated Press reported. But it raises again unanswered questions about the former vice president’s role in Ukraine vis-à-vis his son.
Bags of Cash
Officials showed off four large plastic bags stuffed with bundles of cash on Saturday.
The money, anti-corruption prosecutor Nazar Kholodnitsky said, “was intended to encourage their offices to close an investigation” of Zlochevsky, the head of Burisma and the country’s former ecology minister, AP reported.
Officials believe Zlochevsky exploited his government position to get rich, and said “three people, including a high-ranking tax service official, have been detained in connection with the attempted bribe,” AP reported.
They also say, of course, that the Bidens’ scandalous role in Burisma is unrelated to the latest probe of Zlochevsky, whom Ukrainian officials have been trying to bring to book for years.
Joe Biden helped block that effort.
For it was Biden, when Burisma employed his son, who forced Ukraine to fire Viktor Shokin, the then-prosecutor who was investigating Zlochevsky.
Biden told then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that if the country didn’t fire Shokin, the United States would withhold $1 billion in financial aid from the country.
Biden wanted Shokin whacked for a good reason: The probe would ensnare his son, Hunter, at the least by forcing him to testify about his role there, if not implicate the pair in unethical, if not illegal, activities.
The Cliff Notes version of the story is this:
Burisma hired Hunter Biden in 2014. That gave Burisma access to top U.S. State Department officials. In early 2016, Burisma was pushing the State Department to help end Shokin’s probe of Zlochevsky right after Shokin seized Zlochevsky’s home and car.
In March, Biden senior did Burisma’s bidding. He moved against Shokin despite his own administration’s belief that Burisma was corrupt.
What Biden did is well known, if only because he bragged about it publicly. He threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees if then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko didn’t fire Shokin.
Shokin was planning to interview Hunter Biden about his lucrative position with Burisma, which hired him despite his complete lack of experience in the gas business and record as a raging drug addict.
Why did Burisma hire the clearly unqualified son of the vice president? Said Alexander Kwasniewski, the former president of Poland and a Burisma board member, “being Biden is not bad. It’s a good name.”
Peter Schweizer, author of Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, explained it this way: “They wanted access and they wanted to influence Joe Biden. And Joe Biden has been around a long time here, and he had to know exactly why his son was being paid.”
Indeed he did. Biden senior’s transaction — the $1 billion contract on Shokin — was a bribe, a straight quid pro quo: Fire Shokin and you get the money.
Result? Shokin’s probe of Zlochevsky was at least temporarily derailed, and Hunter Biden didn’t have to explain or account for his activities at Burisma.
But the matter didn’t end there.
The scandal threatened to derail candidate Biden’s last chance to become president after previous failed attempts and reelect President Trump given that Biden was the most electable Democrat.
The impeachment failed to remove Trump, but the false charges against him quickly buried discussion of the Bidens sub-rosa activities in Ukraine.
So now, with the $6 million bribe, even more evidence of Zlochevsky’s corruption, the question about Biden’s move against Shokin remains the same:
Why did he want Shokin fired if he was investigating Zlochevsky, a man now accused of bribery, particularly given that the Obama administration for which Biden toiled assessed Burisma as corrupt?
R. Cort Kirkwood is a long-time contributor to The New American and a former newspaper editor.