Foreign Ownership Exposed but Totally on Brand for D.C.

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Over a year ago a story emerged over the trepidation relating to President Biden’s decision to release millions of barrels of oil from the country’s strategic oil reserves. While the oil was released to stabilize global energy markets and lower the prices of gas, of late the oil reserve release has been controversial. Some of this oil was sold to Sinopec. Sinopec Group ranked 2nd in the Fortune Global 500 List in 2020, with revenue of over US$407 Bn dollars. Many were questioning selling the strategic oil reserves to China since the oil was meant to ease supplies for U.S. refineries. However, some of the SPR release was of grades that U.S. refineries were anyways not keen on buying.

Hunter Biden was associated with a company called BHR Partners, which held a stake in Sinopec. BHR also briefly held a stake in Chinese ride-hailing company DiDi which listed on the U.S. markets in 2021 but is now delisting under pressure from the Chinese government. Sinopec is owned by China Petrochemical Corporation and has direct ties with the Chinese government as it is administered by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC).

Hunter’s dealings with a company called CEFC were on the media’s radar a year ago. CEFC was a Chinese finance conglomerate. They provided financial services and also owned stake in oil, transport infrastructure, forestry, infrastructure, hotel management, warehousing services, real estate, and logistics services. They met an untimely fate in 2020 when it filed for bankruptcy in 2020. In 2016 the CITIC (China International Trust Investment Corporation) acted as the sole bookrunner for CEFC Shanghai’s US$250 Mn bond issuance. CITIC CLSA hid from the market that the bond deal was only 60% subscribed at pricing. It manipulated the bond price in the secondary market in an effort to offload what CITIC CLSA held on its balance sheet. Kathy Liu, the former CLSA executive who has accused the firm of “blatant” misbehavior on the CEFC Energy deal, alleged in a Jan. 13 letter to the SFC (Securities and Financial Commission) that CLSA misled bond buyers by failing to disclose that there was only enough investor demand to cover 60% of the $250 million issuance. She said CLSA used its own capital to purchase the remainder.

Allegedly, there are transactions between that took place between the CEFC and the Biden’s after Biden demitted office as the vice president and concluded before he announced that he was running in the 2020 election. A major side of this controversy last year was related to Hunter’s connection with Sinopec. In November 2021, his attorney Chris Clark told The New York Times that Hunter “no longer holds any interest, directly or indirectly, in either BHR or Skaneateles.”

However, in March of last year, the Washington Examiner found that China’s National Credit Information Publicity System still lists Skaneateles, which is owned by Hunter, as owning a 10 percent stake in BHR Partners. Following this, came news that President Joe Biden’s administration had eliminated United States tariffs on more than 350 products made in China, nearly all of which could be made in the U.S. or other countries.

Biden family business associate Mervyn Yan, a former top CEFC China Energy Co. official, was recently subpoenaed by House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY), a notable development in the Biden family business investigation. Based on purported laptop findings there is evidence of a $1 million legal retainer for Hunter, interest-free loans to the Biden family, and a large diamond received by Hunter in 2017.

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