By R. Cort Kirkwood - thenewamerican.com
In a bit of bad luck for Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden, Ukraine has expanded its probe of the Burisma energy company and its founder. This means that even more details about the Biden-Burisma influence-peddling scandal might surface.
The scandal could end Biden's presidential campaign when the whole truth about his protecting his son's lucrative business interests in Ukraine finally surfaces.
Biden-Burisma is in some sense the center of the Trump impeachment effort because of the president's asking Ukraine President Volodomy Zelensky, during the now-famous phone call of July 25, to reopen an investigation of the Bidens.
The problem for Joe Biden? Burisma's founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, is suspected of embezzling more than $30 million from the country, and Joe Biden, in 2016 which serving as vice president, pushed Ukraine to fire the prosecutor general who was investigating the company. Joe Biden's son Hunter was on Burisma's board.
Ukraine's current prosecutor general, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday that the expanded probe results from an audit of 15 criminal cases, 13 of which involve Zlochevsky, Reuters reported.
"Ryaboshapka's predecessors oversaw a series of investigations into Zlochevsky, a multimillionaire former minister of ecology and natural resources," Reuters reported. "The allegations concern tax violations, money-laundering and licences given to Burisma during the period where Zlochevsky was a minister."
The prosecutor general said he suspects Zlochevsky of "'theft of government funds on an especially large scale,'" but did not provide evidence or details," Reuters reported.
Ryaboshapka was speaking after being asked about a document from the general prosecutor's office that was leaked at a separate press conference by three lawmakers earlier on Wednesday.
The document, only part of which was visible, showed Kulyk suspected Zlochevsky of offences including using his official position to embezzle 800 million hryvnias ($33 million) of money belonging to the central bank.
Problem is, Reuters reported, the cops in Ukraine can't find Zlochevsky.
When or even whether Zlochevsky turns up, the Bidens better be worried. They can't hide behind the mainstream media's cover forever, particularly given that the Trump impeachment controversy might blow the scandal wide open.
That, in turn, would likely sink what will surely be Joe Biden's final try for the White House.
In March 2016, Vice President Joe Biden, as the Obama administration's point man on Ukraine, threatened to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees for the country if it didn't fire the prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin. Shokin, Obama's people, said, was corrupt. In fact, later he even boasted about it (see video below):
Ukraine sacked Shokin, who just happened to be investigating Burisma, which had employed and handsomely paid Hunter Biden, the vice president's son. As well, Burisma put Hunter Biden on its board, something of a strange move given that he knew nothing about Ukraine and even less about energy, and had been discharged from the Navy for cocaine use. Companies don't typically hire raging drug addicts to handle their affairs, but then again, Hunter Biden wasn't your average drug addict.
Shokin's superiors, he avers, told him why they gave him the pink slip: "I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings," he wrote in a sworn affidavit, and planned to interview Hunter Biden.
That scandal is what Trump asked Zelensky to investigate during the phone call that inspired the impeachment probe. But Democrats claims the move was an impeachable offense because Trump expected in exchange for military aid. It was, they claim, a quid pro quo. Biden's quid pro quo on firing Shokin is of no concern.
As well, Hunter Biden and Burisma's legmen in Washington, D.C., were plugged into the State Department starting in 2015 and through at least February 2016, right before Biden senior moved to sack Shokin. Even worse, in early 2015, months before Hunter met with a top State Department official, a senior diplomat warned Joe Biden's staff that Hunter's activities were a problem. That diplomat, George Kent, was ignored.
And now, conveniently for Joe Biden, who has pushed the media to kill coverage of the scandal, Zlochevsky has gone on the lam.
But that might not matter if and when the House votes to impeach Trump and the Senate tries him.
He'll certainly call the Bidens to testify, along with anyone else, perhaps even Hillary Clinton, who can shed on the Obama administration's doings in Ukraine.