Burisma official reportedly linked to Joe Biden met with State officials in 2016, memos show

Vadym Pozharskyi's contacts with USAID flagged for U.S. ambassador in 2016.

Updated: October 15, 2020 - 10:23am

The Burisma Holdings executive who reportedly met with Joe Biden and his son Hunter in 2015 subsequently pitched the Obama administration's foreign aid agency for business a year later, even as the Ukrainian gas company remained under a cloud of corruption suspicion, according to State Department memos obtained by Just the News.

The November 2016 meeting between Burisma's Vadym Pozharskyi and USAID officials came as the Ukrainian gas firm where Hunter Biden worked as a highly compensated board member was scrambling to settle corruption allegations in Ukraine before Donald Trump became president and Joe Biden left office, according to the memos released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Pozharskyi's contact with USAID officials was flagged in a Dec. 8, 2016 memo to U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, then the top American diplomat in Ukraine, as she prepared herself to meet with representatives of a Democratic firm named Blue Star Strategies that was leading Burisma's campaign to end the corruption probes in Ukraine.

Under the heading "WATCH OUT FOR," Yovanovitch's team recounted to the ambassador how Burisma had previously participated in a clean energy program with USAID before the embassy canceled the partnership because of the firm's reputation for corruption.

"Subsequently, USAID spoke to Blue Star Strategies representative Sally Painter by phone and indicated that we would be open to discussing other forms of cooperation between USAID and Burisma and agreed to meet with Burisma government and public affairs representative Vadym Pozharskyi," the memo read.

"In the November meeting, Pozharskyi briefed USAID on Burisma and the gas sector more broadly but did not propose specific ideas for cooperation," the memo stated.

You can read that memo here:

The memo prepared Yovanovitch for a meeting with Blue Star Strategies official Karen Tramontano, a Democrat-connected American lawyer who helped lead a year-long campaign to clear Burisma of corruption allegations.

"Tramontano informally represents Mykola Zlochevsky, the Burisma CEO who has long been the target of law enforcement proceedings in Ukraine," the memo told the ambassador.

Both the USAID meeting with Pozharskyi and the embassy's meeting with Tramontano were remarkable given the deep concern State Department officials working in Ukraine held about Burisma and its alleged corrupt practices.

Those officials reported in February 2015 to the FBI that they had gathered evidence that Burisma had paid a $7 million bribe to Ukrainian prosecutors in an effort to make the corruption probes go away, previously released memos show. The U.S. officials also reported they believed Burisma had paid a second bribe in December 2016 by dumping cheap gas on the market and letting Ukrainian government officials buy it low and sell it high, memos show.

 

 

 

 

Those officials also canceled a partnership that Burisma had struck with USAID in 2014, fearful that being associated with the gas firm would tarnish the Obama administration's anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine.

The memos also show the embassy in Kiev as well as senior State Department officials were acutely aware of Hunter Biden's presence on the board.

Former U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission George Kent testified to the Senate recently that he believed Vice President Joe Biden created the appearance of a conflict of interest that undercut U.S. policy in Ukraine by continuing to preside over the U.S. anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine while his son worked for a firm under corruption investigation in the country.

Burisma's own public relations site contains pictures and press releases showing Pozharskyi meeting with USAID officials as early as 2015 and meeting with Yovanovitch in both April 2017 and again in November 2017.

Pozharskyi burst into the public earlier Wednesday in a headline-grabbing story by the New York Post that claimed emails recovered from a laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden suggested that the Burisma official met with Vice President Joe Biden in April 2015.

Biden's campaign, which has previously denied the Democratic presidential nominee had any contact with his son's business, did not directly deny a meeting took place, instead saying there was no record of it on the vice president's official schedule.

Just the News has been unable to confirm the authenticity of the emails cited by the New York Post. But the State Department memos obtained under a FOIA lawsuit at least confirm Pozharskyi met with Obama administration officials at a time when the company he and Hunter Biden worked for remained under corruption investigation.

And those meetings were controversial enough that they were briefed to America's top diplomat in Ukraine, the memos released under FOIA show.

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