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Hunter Biden, partners aided Chinese bid to corner nuclear energy market with U.S. tech, memos show

Detailed plan obtained by congressional investigators show Biden sought to help CEFC China Energy buy Westinghouse, the premier maker of U.S. nuclear reactors.

Published: March 13, 2024 11:00pm

While his father was still vice president, Hunter Biden and his business partners tried unsuccessfully to help a Chinese energy firm acquire one of the United States’ premier nuclear technology companies in a secret attempt to "control" the global market, according to new evidence turned over to Congress in President Joe Biden's impeachment inquiry.

The evidence, which includes a detailed strategy memo, shows Hunter Biden was directly involved in emails and correspondence on the project in 2016 and that the goal was to exploit the future first son's access to power and his family reputation to make Washington and Beijing comfortable with a potentially controversial deal and then to shield the acquisition of Westinghouse by China CEFC Energy behind intermediaries.

“In summary, utilising (sic) the U.S. face of Westinghouse, combined with the economic power of CEFC (China) is the perfect solution to control this global sector,” Hunter Biden partner James Gilliar wrote to CEFC in a strategy memo.

At the time, Westinghouse was U.S.-based but owned by Japan's Toshiba and one of the darlings of the nuclear industry with its new AP1000 reactor, a smaller and more advanced power generator. But it privately was suffering financial strife due to cost delays and overruns at a planned nuclear power plant in Georgia that would eventually force the company to file for temporary bankruptcy protection.

Congressional investigators recently obtained new memos and testimony about the nature of the plan to help CEFC gain a larger foothold in the global nuclear energy market by acquiring Westinghouse. One of Hunter Biden's former business partners, Rob Walker, told Congress the future first son was involved, providing a letter to make the Chinese comfortable with the plan.

Hunter Biden "had an interesting last name that would probably get people in the door,” Walker explained to lawmakers.

Hunter Biden's association with CEFC dating to late 2015 has been well-known for years, including emails suggesting his father might get a 10% stake in the firm and testimony that Joe Biden met with the chairman of the Chinese company in early 2017 before nearly $8 million in money flowed from CEFC to companies tied to the Biden family.

But most of the evidence in public to date has focused on efforts by Hunter Biden and partners to help CEFC gain access to oil and gas assets and technology in the United States, including a liquid natural gas project in Louisiana known as Monkey Island.

The fact that Hunter Biden and his team were also working to affect a transfer of one of America's premier nuclear energy tech companies to China has only recently come into clearer focus for investigators.

Lawmakers told Just the News that the story of CEFC fits a pattern that Hunter Biden was willing to take money from countries or companies adversarial to the United States, including helping them try to acquire prize assets like the Michigan-based Heninges firm that Just the News reported Hunter Biden helped sell to a Chinese firm tied to the People's Liberation Army.

That transaction was deemed so sensitive – because Heninges produced windshield technology for U.S. fighter jets – it had to get special approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States during the Obama-Biden years.

"The Biden family was all about money," Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., told the "John Solomon Reports" podcast. "There was no sense of of honor or no sense of protection to the country. It was protect the brand, which was the Biden name. Joe Biden.

He added: "I don't know if I've ever seen grifters more than the Biden family."

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, who is leading the impeachment inquiry with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan and House Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith, said Wednesday that the Biden family's close and lucrative relationship with China leaves Americans wondering whether foreign policy decisions today are being influenced today by business ties from the past.

"We're very concerned. And when you look at the Biden administration, there's no question in my mind that they've had a soft on China policy," Comer said on the "Just the News, No Noise" television show. "And there are certain policy decisions that this administration has made that are counter to what any American would want with respect to foreign policy relating to China."

Some of the evidence about CEFC's pursuit of Westinghouse was secured from the laptop that Hunter Biden abandoned at a Delaware computer repair shop and was later seized by the FBI in December 2019. The FBI shortly thereafter authenticated the laptop.

Gilliar and his partners, Hunter Biden and Walker, discussed in one email a “CEFC / [Westinghouse]” deal, though the contours of the proposed agreement were unclear in that correspondence.

“Good to see a couple of weeks ago, further to our discussions we have prepared a deck for my visit to CEFC board on Monday in Beijing, It has been made clear to me that CEFC wish to engage in further business relations with our group and we will present a few projects to them,” Gilliar wrote to Jim Bernhard of Bernhard Capital in February 2016.

“I attach [sic] the decks and a covering [sic] letter that lay out the principals as I see of a Westinghouse play, we have been a little presumptuous that you wish to be included, but we hope so ?” he added.

Gilliar also made clear that Hunter Biden was intimately familiar with the proposed deal. “P.S Im  [sic] sure H can give you the heads up on the play if you need more details,” Gilliar wrote.

You can read the email below:

Attached to the email were two documents. One was a signed cover letter marked to be sent to CEFC China Energy, the energy conglomerate that began courting Hunter Biden while his father was finishing his last term as vice president. Some of the earliest communications with CEFC uncovered by the House Oversight Committee date to late 2015.

The cover letter mentioned by Gilliar, obtained by Just the News, sheds light on the extent of the planned deal, clearly detailing the scope of the team’s plan for helping CEFC acquire Westinghouse. This included facilitating CEFC’s dominance of the Chinese and global nuclear energy market and masking the acquisition behind firms that wouldn’t raise alarms in western capitals.

The letter shows Gilliar and team believed CEFC was uniquely positioned to acquire from Toshiba an ownership stake in the American nuclear company due to the Japanese conglomerate’s “market weakness” and the “indecision of the Japanese Nuclear industry.”

Gilliar highlighted how the Chinese market was highly dependent on international support by companies that use Westinghouse technologies. Additionally, China still had restrictions on the technologies that it could export. “The original license agreement with Westinghouse was only domestic,” Gilliar pointed out.

Yet, Gilliar and his team saw an opportunity for CEFC to fill an important role in the Chinese domestic nuclear market and around the world through the acquisition, and in the process, liberate China from its dependence on foreign nuclear technology.

“[If] CEFC owned Westinghouse, it would mean that every export of product in the future from Chinese EPC companies or manufacturers would have to go through CEFC,” Gilliar concluded.

Gilliar also prepared a report – marked “highly confidential” – that detailed the significance of a CEFC acquisition of Westinghouse. Just the News obtained a copy of that report.

“Westinghouse retains all the intellectual property (IP) rights and licenses for the AP1000 and CAP1000”—two nuclear reactor designs. “The design and/or licensing of the AP1000 is the most widely used in the world. Nearly all Asian designs borrow from Westinghouse IP and licensing,” Gilliar explained.

The group also saw this as an opportunity to bring together U.S. and Chinese interests by maintaining Westinghouse as a U.S.-based corporation, despite their plans to acquire an ownership stake by CEFC.

“Secondly, the international Nuclear markets are still massively influenced by the U.S. administration through licensing, oversight and operational prospective, they have nearly total dominance. By owning Westinghouse and retaining its U.S. status, CEFC would be the commanding influence on all international programmes and would align the U.S., Chinese and target country interests,” Gilliar explained in the cover letter.

This sentiment was echoed by Gilliar in his nearly 60-page confidential report obtained by Just the News which he prepared to sell the Chinese on the acquisition play.

“Furthermore, because the AP1000 is a U.S. design, Westinghouse has significant lobbying power in Congress,” he said. The group could exploit this lobbying power to support China as a “new entrant to the nuclear power market,” according to the report.

The documents make clear the team’s ambitions were nothing short of achieving a commanding influence for CEFC over the global nuclear power plant sector. “In summary, utilising the U.S. face of Westinghouse, combined with the economic power of CEFC (China) is the perfect solution to control this global sector,” Gilliar wrote CEFC.

You can read the signed letter and the confidential report (parts 1 & 2) below:

There was just one problem: “It would be highly unlikely that Toshiba would sell Westinghouse to Chinese or Korean interests, certainly not for an attractive price,” one memo stated.

But Gilliar proposed a solution for CEFC: his company—the European Energy and Infrastructure Group—and Bernhard Capital Partners would “implement an acquisition structure” that would “create the correct support in Washington that guarantees CEFC to receive the right support and U.S. promotes for its operations.”

This plan would place the appearance of a layer between CEFC—a China-based company with close connections to the ruling Chinese Communist Party and component of its national energy strategy—and the iconic U.S.-based energy company.

Neither Walker nor Hunter Biden’s lawyers responded to a request for comment from Just the News. James Gilliar was unable to be reached for comment.

Westinghouse did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Just the News on Wednesday afternoon.

About one month after the letter and report, the group around Hunter Biden planned to signal to CEFC its ability to “create the correct support in Washington” by touting the Biden name, which came with its own deep political connections.

In March 2016, the group drafted a letter to be sent to CEFC’s director, Zang Jianjun, on behalf of Hunter Biden, whose name was prominently displayed on the letterhead “R. Hunter Biden” along with a Washington, D.C. address which is situated nearly equidistant from his father’s then vice presidential residence at the Naval Observatory and his official offices in the White House complex.

This draft letter was previously released by the Oversight Committee, however, the new context of the proposed Westinghouse deal adds greater significance to the communication.

“I hope this letter finds you well. We anticipate working together on a number of opportunities in the US and abroad,” Hunter Biden wrote. “I believe we have presented a collection of projects that parallel the interests of you and your team and we look forward to discussing them in detail,” he continued.

To show how closely Hunter Biden and James Gilliar were aligned on the matters he had discussed with the company, he added: “As we await your next visit to the United States, please continue to coordinate all matters with my confidant and trusted advisor, James Gilliar.”

The other partner in the Biden group, Walker, told congressional investigators in his sworn testimony last month that the group used Hunter Biden’s letterhead as a “calling card” to signify who they represented.

“I think what is common with U.S. companies working with individuals abroad, those individuals tend to -- they don't -- they aren't taken seriously unless they have a calling card like this,” Walker said. “[This] is just normal, customary business practice."

“But why use Hunter Biden to send the letter instead of Rob Walker or James Gilliar, especially if James Gilliar had the original relationship?” congressional investigators asked. “Hunter in our relationship was -- everybody had different roles. He was the one that I imagine Zang would expect it to come from,” Walker answered.

Walker also told investigators the CEFC representative viewed the vice president's son as the “principal” of the organization.

“I can’t answer for Zang, but sure, he had an interesting last name that would probably get people in the door,” Walker said of Hunter Biden.

In 2015, Hunter Biden’s company Bohai Harvest RST (BHR) was involved in facilitating the sale of a Michigan-based auto parts manufacturer—Henniges Automotive—to one of the primary military aircraft producers in China, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China or AVIC.

The 2015 acquisition and approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)—which reviews national security impacts of foreign investment—came a little more than a year after the the Obama Administration added AVIC to the Commerce Department blacklist because of Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, in part using AVIC-built military aircraft, Just the News previously reported.

The timing of the transaction raised conflict of interest concerns in Congress, considering AVIC’s smooth acquisition of the parts manufacturer whose technologies had military applications. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter in 2019 to then-Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin seeking records related to the CFIUS approval of the deal in light of his concerns.

Hunter Biden would also later work closely with a company which entertained purchasing fuel through Rosneft—the Russian state-owned oil company—at a time when CEFC China Energy was also exploring purchasing a stake in the Russian company.

According to emails obtained from Hunter Biden’s laptop, Hudson West III (HWIII), a joint venture established between Hunter Biden and CEFC, explored an agreement with Trade Group to import fuel to the United States purchased from Rosneft.

You can read an email outlining the proposed agreement below:

However, Hunter Biden expressed concerns about this plan, worried the transaction would be ensnared by U.S. sanctions on Russia. “I would like for us all to take a step back and get answers to questions that are bothering me. First and foremost is Roland's seemingly unilateral and last-minute decision to purchase the fuel offshore through Roseneft. How did Roland acquire that relationship?” Biden asked his HWIII associates.

“As far as I know it's not through us and until I see the necessary documentation from the US Department of Energy that states resellers can and do circumvent the sanctions on Russian oil and gas I want nothing to do with it,” he added.

Yet, at the same time that Biden expressed concerns about running afoul of Russian sanctions, his Chinese partner was exploring a purchase of a $9.1 billion stake in Rosneft. In fact, Hudson West III was formed on the same day CEFC announced its intent to buy the approximately 14% stake in the Russian-owned enterprise.

According to a Senate report, “On the same day that the impending Rosneft deal was announced, Hunter Biden and Gongwen Dong, a Chinese national who has reportedly executed transactions for limited liability companies controlled by Ye Jianming, applied to a bank and opened a line of credit under the business name Hudson West III LLC.”

Hudson West III LLC would be the primary vehicle that CEFC and its chairman, Ye Jianming, would use to transfer funds to the younger Biden, totaling at least $5 million from 2017-2019, according to the first son’s now-defunct plea agreement with the Justice Department for a failure to pay at least $1.4 million in income taxes.

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