With his father’s eight-year tenure in the White House waning, Hunter Biden got a remarkable overture in 2015: one of China’s richest businessmen wanted to make a sizable donation to the World Food Program USA (WFP USA) which was led by the vice president’s son.
WFP USA is the eponymous, taxpayer-subsidized American fundraising branch of the United Nations (UN) organization that fights global hunger.
But soon, memos gathered by the FBI show, the charitable discussions evolved into expanding the relations with Beijing’s CEFC to include business deals that would eventually earn the Biden family millions of dollars in personal revenue—money that almost certainly made its way into Joe Biden’s pockets.
“CEFC China is very interested in exploring humanitarian initiatives of mutual interest to the World Food Program USA and discussing investment opportunities with Burnham,” an email received and then forwarded by Hunter Biden in October 2015 stated. Burnham was one of the many firms through which Hunter Biden and his partners scored large investments.
The story of CEFC’s dual pitch for charity and personal business is chronicled inside emails and memos contained on a laptop that Hunter Biden abandoned at a Delaware computer repair shop and was eventually turned over in December 2019 to the FBI, which is leading an investigation into the taxes, finances and foreign business dealing of the president’s son.
The pattern also was repeated several times during Hunter Biden’s tenure as chairman of the World Food Program (WFP), the document show.
For instance, Hunter Biden would connect his Burisma Holdings colleagues in Ukraine to the food charity. And he would arrange for his father to speak at the charity’s events while setting up a dinner that merged his business clients and charity colleagues with a chance to dine with the vice president.
Hunter Biden served on the WFP board from 2011 until 2017 and was chairman from 2011 to 2015, according to WFP annual reports. During that time, he leveraged his connection to the UN-affiliated organization and to his father, the vice president (who headlined multiple WFP events), to enhance his business relationships with Russian, Ukrainian, and Chinese oligarchs.
WFP USA has not yet returned requests for comment. Hunter Biden’s lawyer, George Mesires, has declined to return numerous messages seeking comment on his client’s foreign business dealings.
The Ukrainians were the first to see the potential to capitalize on Hunter Biden’s WFP connections. On March 16, 2015, Burisma advisor Vadym Pozharskyi wrote to Hunter Biden: “Following our conversation, I would like to let you know that it would be great if we could combine our efforts and do something important together in the area of food safety, as well in other areas of interest for WFP and other UN strategic initiatives.”
“This is great,” Hunter replied on the same day. “My thinking is that we create and fund an operation based at CSIS.org that focuses on solutions to food security that can be implemented in real time…my long term thinking is that this is what I/ We are known for. The possible connection to the UN leadership and the real ability that we have to bring both ideas and capital to the table along with a platform (CSIS/WFP) makes this a very interesting opportunity. I would love for you to be a partner in it.”
Four days later, on March 20, 2015, Hunter Biden emailed a tentative guest list to Archer for a forthcoming dinner that endeavored to convene some of Hunter Biden’s most controversial foreign business associates in the secluded “Garden Room” at the Café Milano in Washington D.C.
Hunter Biden saved “3 seats for WFP people” as three seats for their Kazakh associates, two seats for former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and his wife, Russian oligarch Yelena Baturina, as well as a seat for a Burisma representative, Pozharskyi.
Archer questioned Hunter Biden’s decision to invite Pozharskyi (and sent a cryptic line about saving additional seats for his “guy” and Hunter’s “guy”) but Hunter Biden insisted.
“Vadym has an interest in being more involved in these issues- particularly related to UN agencies (WFP etc…),” the younger Biden explained. “I think your guy being there is more trouble than it’s worth.” It is unclear if the two “guys” they were referring to were the vice president and then-Secretary of State John Kerry (with whom Archer had a long history).
While Kerry and the Russian oligarchs apparently did not attend the dinner, Joe Biden did. His attendance at a dinner that included numerous of his son’s foreign business associates directly contradicts the president’s repeated claims that he never met with his son’s business partners.
When news of the mysterious dinner first broke, the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler downplayed the significance and emphasized Biden’s WFP USA connection: “But when we looked into it, there was less to the story than one might imagine,” Kessler demurred. Kessler spoke with one of the dinner attendees, Rick Leach, who acknowledged that Joe Biden stopped by “briefly.” Leach, the founder of WFP USA, claimed that he and Hunter delivered a “tag team presentation” about food assistance and “there was no discussion of politics or business about anything or anywhere.”
The spring 2015 dinner would not be the last time Hunter Biden and his associates merged WFP USA charity with their ambition to score millions of dollars in private business overseas in countries like China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Oman and Ukraine.
For instance, Hunter Biden received an on Oct. 4, 2015, email from a consultant working on behalf of China’s CEFC clearly showing the large Chinese energy firm wanted to be involved both with the charity and one of Hunter Biden’s businesses where he served as a vice chairman.
“CEFC China is very interested in exploring humanitarian initiatives of mutual interest to the World Food program USA and discussing investment opportunities with Burnham,” the CEFC consultant wrote, dangling the opportunity for members of the Biden family to come to China for speaking gigs.
“All expenses will be covered as well as speaking engagements,” wrote CEFC’s intermediary.
Two days later, one of Hunter Biden’s partners, Eric Schwerin, met with the CEFC intermediary and briefed Hunter Biden and Archer on CEFC’s impressive financials and the three men began to plot their business dealings.
Within a week, Schwerin reached out to WFP USA’s Rick Leach informing him that CEFC wanted to make a donation to the UN fundraising branch that Hunter chaired.
“My assumption based on the conversations I have had with them is that it would be more than just a token donation,” Schwerin wrote indicating that he was still performing due diligence on a CEFC entity’s 501(c)3 status. Schwerin’s due diligence apparently failed to uncover that CEFC was closely linked to the Chinese military.
By December 2015, CEFC had not yet linked up with Hunter Biden nor WFP USA, but it had found another way into the Biden orbit. Former foreign minister from Serbia, Vuk Jeremic, happened to be on the CEFC advisory board and was a Biden associate. Jeremic contacted Schwerin and pitched him on a CEFC meeting.
“It is interesting that you raised the CEFC Chairman,” Schwerin replied, mentioning the other CEFC consultant’s recent overture for a WFP donation.
“We weren’t sure if it was worthwhile but the fact that he is friends with you makes us feel better about this,” Schwerin said.
Jeremic replied that he was very close to and could vouch for CEFC chairman Ye Jianming (whose close ties to Chinese intelligence were a red flag for Sens. Ron Johnson and Charles Grassley and have now been exposed in Peter Schweizer’s Red-Handed: How American Elites Get Rich Helping China Win).
Hunter Biden’s team informed Jeremic that his referral allayed their reservations and made plans to meet with the CEFC chairman the following week.
After Hunter Biden and Schwerin met with the “#2” at CEFC, Schwerin reached out to WFP USA’s Rick Leach to inform him Hunter’s idea for CEFC to bankroll WFP USA’s “Purchase for Progress” program, emails and memos show.
Having already spoken with Hunter Biden about the CEFC donation, Leach concurred. “It’s a very exciting opportunity,” Leach wrote.
Schwerin followed up with WFP USA personnel about the CEFC donation and vouched for the Chinese energy company multiple times (apparently unaware of the high-level ties to the Chinese military).
“Vuk is a good friend and our primary validator with CEFC,” Schwerin wrote to WFP USA’s team. He emphasized that “you can tell from the names and photos on the site there are a lot of well-known and influential people involved.” Schwerin acknowledged that he was not sure if CEFC had a U.S.-based entity that could make the donation.
By mid-2016, WFP USA’s “Due Diligence Committee…approved CEFC!” and Schwerin began discussing the prospect of introducing other associates to CEFC. “If we can make the connection [to CEFC] we can take a percentage of the sale,” Schwerin wrote to Hunter on Aug. 22, 2016, explaining how they could profit.
In February 2017, Hunter Biden flew to Miami to meet with CEFC chairman Ye Jianming. There, Ye offered Hunter a three-year deal at $10 million per year for “introductions alone.” To close the deal, Ye gave Hunter a three-carat diamond valued at over $80,000.
When asked about this fateful meeting in Miami, Hunter Biden told the New Yorker’s Adam Entous he was there for WFP USA charity work when the meeting unexpectedly “turned to business opportunities.”
Hunter Biden, however, went there with two other business partners who had been intimately involved in the pitching of private business deals to CEFC.
Over the next year, the CEFC money began to flow and Hunter Biden had scooped nearly $6 million from CEFC.
In Red-Handed, Schweizer revealed the CEFC chairman’s close ties to Chinese military and intelligence:
Ye’s strong ties to Chinese intelligence are worth noting.
CEFC was housed in a complex in Shanghai’s French Concession section, an area “primarily controlled by China’s military.” One of Ye’s early business partners was the granddaughter of “one of the founders of China’s military,” Marshal Ye Jianying.
The corporate logo of the company Hunter Biden was now advising, and which would pay him millions, features a star. According to company records on its English website, it represents “civil rights.” However, on the company’s Chinese-language site, the star signifies that “this organization will play a strong and powerful role for the interests of the Chinese state and nation.”
Ye built his business by acquiring assets from Lai Changxing, a former PLA officer closely linked with Chinese military intelligence. Lai reportedly drove a bulletproof Mercedes around Beijing with a license plate adorned with a distinctive Chinese character in red—an indication that his car was owned by the PLA General Staff.
Ye has other connections to the Chinese government’s military, intelligence, and political apparatus. He was the deputy secretary- general of either the China Association for International Friendly Contact (CAIFC) or CAIFC’s Shanghai branch from 2003 to 2005. CAIFC is funded by Chinese PLA intelligence. Finally, there are Chinese military officers affiliated with Ye’s company who are also tied to the PLA National Defense University. Beyond the military and intelligence ties, CEFC has also cosponsored events with neo- Maoist and hard-line nationalists in China who want to radically expand Beijing’s global reach. The CEFC funded a related nonprofit think tank called the China Energy Fund Committee. While the Fund Committee sponsored events and research advocating China’s territorial claims, another subsidiary, the China Institute of Culture, pledged support for Taiwan’s reunification with mainland China.
By mid 2017, CEFC was making interest-free loans to the Bidens. One CEFC executive claimed that $5 million was “lent” to the Biden family (not exclusively to Hunter Biden). “This $5 million loan to the BD [Biden] family is interest free,” the CEFC executive wrote. “But if the 5M is used up, should CEFC keep lending more to the family?”
CEFC Infrastructure Investment LLC sent $100,000 to Hunter Biden’s law firm, Owasco, in August 2017.
Less than one week later, the entity transferred $5 million to another firm controlled by CEFC chairman Ye Jianming. That firm then started sending regular payments to Hunter Biden’s Owasco firm.
According to the Johnson and Grassley Senate report, Hunter Biden funneled nearly $1.4 million of that money to his aunt Sara and uncle James’s firm Lion Hall Group.