Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka announced earlier today that the government would be expanding its investigation into Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky to include possible embezzlement of state funds, according to Reuters and The Daily Caller.
Burisma is the Ukrainian natural gas company whose board Hunter Biden served on from April of 2014 until April of this year, earning a reported salary of $50,000 per month, despite having zero experience in the energy sector.
Ukrainian officials are currently unable to locate Zlochevsky, who is suspected of embezzling the equivalent of $33 million in state funds while serving as the country’s ecology and natural resources minister from 2010 to 2012.
Prior general prosecutors managed a variety of investigations into the Burisma founder, stemming from allegations related to tax violations, money-laundering, and licenses awarded to Burisma while Zlochevsky was serving as ecology minister. The latest announcement by Ryaboshapka reveals that embezzlement of state funds may now be added to the list of possible crimes. Ryaboshapka’s declaration was prompted after lawmakers in a prior press conference leaked a document from the general prosecutor’s office related to the investigation.
The latest news of an expanded probe into the Burisma founder coincides with the impeachment inquiry hearings, which the Democrats are conducting to determine if President Trump withheld aid from Ukraine in return for an investigation into Zlochevsky’s Burisma, as well as into Joe and Hunter Biden. The announcement comes on the heels of Democrats perpetually urging the public that the Bidens engaged in no wrongdoing while conducting activities in Ukraine.
Undoubtedly, given that the time period of the potential embezzlement precedes the arrival of the youngest Biden, the media and Democrats will leap on this chain of events as vindication or “proof” that Hunter Biden was not involved in corrupt activities abroad and that Joe Biden did not offer informal leverage for his son. However, it’s entirely possible that Burisma sought Western figures with clout-carrying names like “Biden” to shield the company from undergoing too rigorous an investigation after the potentially corrupt activities unfolded. This theory becomes particularly poignant when considered in light of Joe Biden’s speech, in which he bragged about having the then-general prosecutor of Ukraine fired, allegedly under the banner of a widespread anti-corruption campaign he carried out during his tenure as vice president.
As The New York Times shared in May, Hunter’s appointment to the board of Burisma, in the very least, was advantageous for suggesting to the world that the Ukrainian energy sector was beginning to address its own rampant corruption. “Their [Hunter Biden and others’] support allowed Burisma to create the perception that it was backed by powerful Americans at a time when Ukraine was especially dependent on aid and strategic backing from the United States and its allies, according to people who worked in Ukraine at the time,” the Times reported.
The direct advantage Hunter’s retainment gave to Burisma is still unknown. Still, journalists will likely find this recent information highly exculpatory, despite the fact that Hunter could have just as easily served as a Western balm to a highly invasive and expensive investigation. As the Democrats continue to rail against Trump for a phone call made transparent by an actual transcript, the latest allegations against Zlochevsky reveal a whole world of corruption that remains largely unknown to Congress — and one Hunter Biden had immeasurable connection to.