From the BBC News, 14 May, 2014:
BURISMA, A PRIVATE OIL AND GAS COMPANY IN UKRAINE, ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK THAT IT HAS APPOINTED HUNTER BIDEN, THE YOUNGEST SON OF US VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN, TO ITS BOARD OF DIRECTORS.
THE COMPANY, FOUNDED IN 2002, IS CONTROLLED BY A FORMER ENERGY OFFICIAL IN THE GOVERNMENT OF DEPOSED UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VIKTOR YANUKOVYCH.
THE MOVE HAS RAISED SOME EYEBROWS IN THE US, GIVEN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S ATTEMPTS TO MANAGE THE ONGOING CRISIS IN UKRAINE.
“Joe Biden has been the White House’s go-to guy during the Ukraine crisis, touring former Soviet republics and reassuring their concerned leaders,” writes the National Journal’s Marina Koren. “And now, he’s not the only Biden involved in the region.”
She says that by appointing Hunter Biden head of its legal affairs unit, “Burisma is turning to US talent – and money and name recognition – for protection against Russia”.
The younger Mr Biden isn’t the only American with political ties to have recently joined Burisma’s board. Devon Archer, a former senior advisor to current Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and a college roommate of Mr Kerry’s stepson HJ Heinz, signed on in April.
Mr Biden and Mr Archer are also managing partners at Rosemont Seneca Partners, a Washington, DC-based investment company.
Both Mr Biden and Mr Archer have not responded to requests from reporters for comment. In Burisma’s press release announcing his hiring, Mr Biden says:
I believe that my assistance in consulting the company on matters of transparency, corporate governance and responsibility, international expansion and other priorities will contribute to the economy and benefit the people of Ukraine.
All this could be explained simply as a foreign energy company looking to increase its visibility in the US and spur investment, writes the Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway. State-controlled companies currently account for 90% of Ukraine’s gas production, but this year Burisma became the nation’s largest private producer.
Hemingway adds, however, that there may be another, less savoury possibility:
The most disturbing explanation is that the company is attempting to curry favour with the US government by enlisting the services of the close family friend and campaign bundler of the secretary of state and the son of the vice president.
After all, Archer notes on one of his company’s web pages that his firm’s “relationship network creates opportunities for our portfolio companies which then compound to greater outcomes for all parties”.
She concludes that this seems like a “cliched movie plot”: “a shady foreign oil company co-opts the vice president’s son in order to capture lucrative foreign investment contracts”.
“Hunter Biden is a private citizen and a lawyer,” Kendra Barkoff, a spokeswoman for the vice president, told the Wall Street Journal. “The vice president does not endorse any particular company and has no involvement with this company.”
The White House has emphasised that the vice president’s son’s new job will have no influence on US foreign policy.