By Eugenia for The Saker Blog
On May 19th, the member of the Ukrainian Parliament (Rada) Andrei Derkach revealed at a press conference tape recordings of the phone conversations between the then-President of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko and the then-US Vice-President Joe Biden. The conversations are in English and can be listened to here (1).
In and of itself, there is nothing at all remarkable that a President has had a number of phone contacts with a leader of a foreign power. The nature of the conversations themselves, however, is nothing short of astonishing. It is like listening to a subordinate reporting to his superior. Although I never had a slightest doubt – not since the coup in 2014 – that Ukraine is totally under the US control still a servile attitude and obvious desire to please on the part of the President Poroshenko struck me as peculiar. The revelations created quite a stir in Ukraine leading, among other things, to the open investigation of the former President for high treason and abuse of power.
In contrast, the information received minimal attention in the US. The Washington Post published an article saying that the tapes do not prove that Biden did anything wrong. Well, as the WP itself noted, the tapes show that Biden linked a $1 billion loan guarantees to Ukraine to the dismissal of then-prosecutor general Victor Shokin, which is, or course, not a big deal by the WP standards. But doesn’t this remind you of something? Something that Trump was accused of – like linking the aid to Ukraine to the investigation of Burisma, the Ukrainian company where the son of Joe Biden was so gainfully employed? It sure does, and WP was one of the most vehement accusers.
Intriguing as the tapes were, they were not the most interesting part of that momentous press conference. There was another person present – Konstantin Kulik who was the special prosecutor charged with the investigation of corruption by Yanukovich, the former President of Ukraine ousted by the Maidan coup in February of 2014. Kulik read a short statement in bad Ukrainian close to the end of the press conference. The content of that statement is so remarkable that is deserves a lot more attention it has so far received. Perhaps, precisely because it is so explosive, it is carefully not mentioned in Ukraine or the US.
After Maidan in 2014, Kulik was put in charge of the investigation into the money stolen by former President Yanukovich and his gang initiated under the new President Poroshenko. The total amount stolen by Yanukovich and his accomplices was estimates at $40 billion, which is huge by the Ukrainian standards. The Kulik team has succeeded in identifying some of the bank accounts in Yanukovich’s name apparently where the stolen money was kept. But after that, the story started to turn interesting. Kulik said that his team encountered a stiff resistance to his investigative effort on the part of former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich, U.S. charge d’Affaires in Ukraine George Kent, and FBI Special Representative for Eastern Europe Karen Greenway. Ultimately, the pressure brought on Ukraine by the US lead to the ouster of the prosecutor general Victor Shokin and the appointment of a new person to that position (which is discussed by Poroshenko and Biden starting at 6:20).
The new prosecutor general was Yuri Lutsenko. Well, here the good old Joe sure made a mistake. But likely anyone in his place would have made the same mistake. Lutsenko looked like an idiot, spoke like an idiot – and everyone assumed he WAS an idiot. Besides, he lacked a law degree or any education even remotely related to the law. As a compensation, he had plenty of practical experience with the law enforcement, for he did time for corruption. Lutsenko truly looked like a perfect candidate for the position. Unfortunately for Biden and Co, he proved to be a lot smarter than anyone expected and continued the investigation into the Yanukovich’s money. He even had the temerity to ask what happened to $7 billion of the money Ukraine foolishly invested in Franklin Templeton hedge fund, which simply vanished. Lutsenko intended to go to the United States to discuss the matter with the FBI leadership and ask for help in the return of the money to Ukraine. Naturally, the Ambassador Yovanovich deftly blocked that silly move: the poor guy was denied the US entry visa. Then things in Ukraine started getting uncomfortable for Lutsenko, so he resigned his position and left the country for the UK under the pretext of needing to improve his command of English. He did not, however, forget to take the documents related to his investigation into the Yanukovich’s money with him. That was the material he later turned over to Rudi Giuliani. Rudi so far showed the American people just the tip of the iceberg but the mainstream media has promptly dismissed everything he said.
But let us return to the Kulik’s statement. According to him, Biden, Yovanovich, Kent, and Greenway did everything possible to block the investigation into Yanukovich and his associates directly involved in money laundering operations, and they did so in coordination with the office of the President Poroshenko. As Kulik put it, Biden, Poroshenko, George Kent, Karen Greenway acted “to redistribute the assets of the Yanukovich clique”. This was done by buying and selling shares of Yahya Group Holding, Ukrainian State treasuries, etc. The money was laundered via the offshore accounts of Burisma, that very same holding that employed the Biden’s son. In particular, the Kulik’s investigation uncovered that in 2014-2015 $3.4 million had been transferred to the account of the American-based Rosemond Seneca firm in the Morgan Stanley Bank, NY. These funds were labeled “consulting fee” to the former US Vice-President Biden, but in reality for lobbying the interests of Burisma Holdings.
The newly appointed, after Lutsenko, prosecutor general, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, was finally the right person for the job. Directed by the US Embassy, he promptly fired the prosecutors involved in the investigation – illegally, of course – and transferred the proceeding to National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), the structure created by the US and totally controlled by the Americans. Kulik himself was removed from the investigation after he had issued a subpoena for the Ambassador Yovanovich. As a result of all these actions, the investigation into the fate of the money appropriated by Yanukovich and his associates came to a standstill, which, apparently, was the goal all along.
So, Trump now has compromising material on the Dem leadership. Will he use it? Probably not, unless he has to, for it is a double-edged sword. But if he is desperate, he might. In this case, the American public will learn in detail how the money stolen from Ukraine by its corrupt leaders, former and current, came to line the pockets of VIP Democrats.