Thursday, September 29, 2022

Treasury Dept. accused of blocking probe into Hunter Biden’s business dealings

The Treasury Department has been accused of stonewalling lawmakers’ requests into the business dealings of President Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, said Treasury officials refused to hand over suspicious activity reports or SARs unless the committee’s Democratic leaders sign off on the request.

“Despite Treasury’s assertion in the press that it ‘provides SARs to Congress in a manner that enables robust oversight,’ Treasury is refusing to release SARs connected with Hunter Biden or his family and associates—including the President,” Mr. Comer wrote in a letter Wednesday to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

He said Treasury outright denied the Republicans’ request to hand over the reports in a phone call with committee staff on June 13.

“The American people deserve to know whether the President’s connections to his son’s business deals occurred at the expense of the United States’ interests and whether they represent a national security threat,” Mr. Comer said in the letter.

Hunter Biden’s business deals with foreign countries such as China and Ukraine have been closely scrutinized since his father was vice president in the Obama administration. Accusations of nepotism and influence peddling have swirled around Mr. Biden as he and others in the Biden clan made a fortune in far-flung enterprises.

The Department of Justice is currently investigating Hunter Biden for potential crimes involving taxes, money laundering and acting as an unregistered foreign agent, according to reports.

In May, Mr. Comer wrote to Ms. Yellen requesting information on financial transactions flagged by U.S. banks. SARs provide banks with a reporting mechanism to flag suspicious transactions for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

In the letter, Mr. Comer cited media reports claiming that “more than 150 of Hunter Biden and the Biden network’s international business transactions have generated suspicious activity reports by U.S. banks for further review by the Treasury Department to determine if there is illegal activity or a threat to national security.”

“The Treasury Department used to provide these reports to Congress, but the Biden Administration has restricted access to them, raising questions about a possible effort to hide the Biden network’s suspicious business dealings,” Mr. Comer wrote in the May letter.

He requested that the Treasury Department hand over the reports by June 8.

The most recent letter adds to growing calls from Republican lawmakers to investigate the scandal-plagued 52-year-old’s business dealings.

In a New York Post op-ed last week Mr. Comer was joined by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio in pledging to investigate Hunter Biden’s “shady business dealings” should Republicans take the majority in this year’s midterm elections.

“A Republican majority will be committed to uncovering the facts the Democrats, Big Tech and the legacy media have suppressed,” the lawmakers wrote.

Republicans, who have eyed Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine and China during his father’s term as vice president, have been closing in on the president’s son ever since a trove of data stored on an abandoned laptop surfaced just before the 2020 election.

Their allegations include that Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian oil and gas company, profited from his father’s position in government.

The elder Mr. Biden has denied ever having discussed his son’s business dealings, but recordings on his son’s laptop indicate otherwise.

In one voicemail recording from 2018 recovered from the laptop, Mr. Biden told his son “I think you’re in the clear,” referring to a New York Times story about the arrest of Chinese energy executive Ye Jianming in China and the prosecution of his lieutenant, Patrick Ho, in the U.S. on bribery charges.

The White House has also faced increasing questions from the press corps amid the slow trickle of information from the laptop.

Earlier this week, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre refused to answer questions on the laptop material or Mr. Biden’s previous assertion that he has not commented on his son’s business dealings.

“I am not going to talk about the alleged materials from the laptop,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said. “I refer you to [Hunter Biden’s] representatives.”

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