10:54 09.10.2019

Ukraine could present U.S. printouts of Burisma's consulting payments to Hunter Biden – former Prosecutor General Lutsenko

6 min read
Ukraine could present U.S. printouts of Burisma's consulting payments to Hunter Biden – former Prosecutor General Lutsenko

The actions of former United States Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter do not violate Ukrainian laws, but there are some grounds to say that there is a conflict of interest, something that could be considered by U.S. law enforcement agencies, former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has said.

Ukraine was involved in American political processes back in 2016 when Ukrainian politicians and officials spread the information about the so-called "black ledger" of the Party of Regions and confirmed the mention of U.S. political consultant Paul Manafort in this document, Lutsenko said in an interview with NV radio on Tuesday evening.

"There is a reported fact that our politicians and public servants were attempting to influence U.S. elections in favor of [the former Secretary of State and former U.S. presidential candidate] Hillary Clinton," Lutsenko said, referring to director of the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) Artem Sytnyk's statements.

The American side regards that as interference and stresses the necessity of an investigation, the former prosecutor general said.

Speaking of his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, the former Ukrainian prosecutor general said that this had been at Giuliani's initiative and the inquiry into former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's assets withdrawn from Ukraine, with some of them placed in the U.S., was a reason for the meeting.

Meetings were delayed several times, but then he went on vacation and travelled to the U.S. at his own initiative where he met with Giuliani for a couple of hours several days in a row, Lutsenko said.

"This has been the only way to try to achieve a joint investigation into Yanukovych's funds, a large part of which are deposited in the U.S.," Lutsenko said, commenting on the reasons why he agreed to have the talks.

The Ukrainian prosecution service contacted the U.S. regarding this issue, but did not receive any official answers, the former prosecutor general said.

"I wanted to know what other doors I could knock on in order to seize these funds in a joint effort," he added.

As for the interest Giuliani had in the talks with Lutsenko, the latter said that it was an assumption that the former prosecutor general could provide information about the interference of Ukrainian officials in U.S. elections. These actions took place, but they are not at odds with Ukrainian law, Lutsenko said.

He also said that in talks with Giuliani, they also discussed Burisma's operation.

The criminal cases related to Burisma and former Ukrainian Environment Minister Mykola Zlochevsky were investigated under Prosecutors General Vitaliy Yarema and Viktor Shokin on three counts, namely, the abuse of power by Zlochevsky, whose subordinates issued a license to Burisma, Burisma tax dodging, and Zlochevsky's probable money laundering.

"At the very end of Shokin's tenure, he submitted the key case into the unlawfulness of issuing a license to the NABU for some reasons ... Immediately following that ... the case was terminated," Lutsenko said.

The tax evasion case was successfully executed and Burisma paid the back taxes to the national budget, following that, the case was closed, he said.

"The money laundering case is still being considered by the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office," Lutsenko added.

"I see that all of these actions meet the interests of the top officials of the [U.S.] Democratic Party. Moreover, all of them used to end up in the NABU, or with the so-called activists who protect and support the NABU. In case of the so-called Ukrainian meddling, and in case of the probable conflict of interests between Hunter Biden and the Ukrainian company, the NABU's work favored the Democrats," the former prosecutor general said.

At the same time, Lutsenko said that his talks with Giuliani were private in nature and did not include handing over any documents on how it could have been better to cooperate in the investigation of several cases.

In general, describing his stance on this issue, Lutsenko said that finds it necessary to shift this issue from a political to the judicial field. These issues are not within the jurisdiction of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, the former prosecutor general said.

"Relocating the point of seeking the truth in American relations with Ukraine, in my opinion, is the worst thing that can be done," he said.

When asked whether there remains any evidence that could be presented in the event of the U.S. side's launching of an inquiry, Lutsenko said that there is video footage where Joe Biden admits himself that he pressured the Ukrainian president to replace the Ukrainian prosecutor general.

"This key fact could and should be assessed by a U.S. investigation, not a Ukrainian one. Could Ukraine be helpful in this regard? Of course, it could. Once there is a request from the U.S. side, we could interrogate those who participated in the talks and confirm or disprove Biden's claims. This is at least a conflict of interest," he said.

The same is true of the possible Hunter Biden probe, he said.

"If America believes it has a reason to open such case, we will provide a printout of payments, as I can say for sure that they are in our case files, I saw the accounting entries myself. American law enforcement authorities could check whether any payments for consulting actually took place," he said.

"Ukraine may not initiate a case against the Bidens. We have no such jurisdiction. But if America opens such a case, then Ukraine will provide judicial assistance, clearly in conformity with an international agreement, with regard to a possible conflict of interests involving Joe Biden and a probable inappropriate spending of funds involving his son," he said.

Thus, this is about a possible conflict of interest involving foreign officials, and so Ukraine cannot open a case based on such things, Lutsenko said.

In reply to a question as to what specifically Ukraine should do to get out of this situation, Lutsenko supposed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had articulated a true method of bringing the situation to the legal arena.

"If the United States is concerned about possible abuses by its nationals ... U.S. authorities should open a case, and Ukraine is ready to help find the truth in a joint investigation team with them. The sooner the case goes from the hands and mouths of politicians to the hands and papers of law enforcement agencies of both countries, the better it will be in terms of establishing the truth and for the Ukraine-U.S. relations," Lutsenko concluded.