Hunter Biden, the son of former United States vice-president Joe Biden, is listed as a director of a state-backed equity fund in China, but public records do not appear to support claims by US President Donald Trump that he used his father’s connections to secure Chinese capital for his investments.
Trump on Thursday called on China to investigate Biden, now a leading Democratic presidential candidate, and his son, alleging the younger Biden used his position of influence to secure US$1.5 billion in funding from the government-owned Bank of China for a private equity firm he was involved in and made millions in the process.
Filings in China’s National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System database show that Hunter Biden is listed as a director of BHR Equity Investment Fund Management Company, a company incorporated in December 2013 with registered capital of 30 million yuan, or about US$4 million at the current exchange rate.
The private equity firm reshuffled its board of directors on September 18, according to filings, but the younger Biden’s role at the company remained unchanged. All pictures of Hunter have been removed from the BHR website.
In October 2017, Hunter spent about US$420,000 for a 10 per cent stake in BHR, according to a report in The New York Times, when his father had left office.
According to filings, the newspaper report matches an equity structure change reported on the registry on October 23, when BHR’s former shareholder Rosemont Seneca Bohai ceased to become a shareholder and gave way to Ulysses Diversified and Skaneateles LLC.
Bohai Industrial Investment Fund Management, which is backed by Bank of China, and Ample Harvest Finance, a Shanghai-based private equity firm linked with Chinese investment company Harvest, remained the two largest shareholders. The companies paid 9 million yuan (US$1.2 million) for a 30 per cent equity stake.
Thornton Group paid 3 million yuan (US$420,000) for 10 per cent stake, and a Shanghai company controlled by Jonathan Li, or Li Xiangsheng, also controls a 10 per cent stake, according to the government records.
Hunter became involved with the company through Devon Archer, an American businessman, according to comments made by BHR chief executive Li in the 21st Century Business Herald in 2014.
Li told the paper that he was a friend of Archer and asked him to introduce potential partners while in New York in 2012. “One day, after visiting five or six top private equity firms, Archer, Li and another executive went into a pub in Manhattan. While they were having cigar and relaxing, Archer suddenly offered to Li, ‘hey, do not you think I am the right partner for you?’” the paper reported.
Li said he chose Archer to become a partner because of his “deep” ties to US politics, including Biden’s son, according to the report.
The details match a New Yorker magazine profile of Hunter in July, according to which the younger Biden and Archer talked with the Chinese private equity investor about partnering to raise funds in China, as well as other business opportunities.
Hunter and Archer co-founded Rosemont Seneca, along with Christopher Heinz, the stepson of former Secretary of State John Kerry.
Archer is now embroiled in controversy after Trump tweeted a photograph of him golfing with the elder Biden and his son, labelling the businessman a “Ukraine gas exec” in an apparent bid to highlight his business ties with the Bidens and Ukraine.
Trump is facing impeachment proceedings over allegations he asked the Ukrainian president for help in investigating his political rivals.
Trump has accused Beijing of paying “billions of dollars” in “payoffs” to the Bidens in exchange for beneficial trade treatment.
The US president has said “when Biden’s son walks out of China with $1.5 billion in a fund, and the biggest funds in the world can’t get money out of China, and he’s there for one quick meeting and he flies in on Air Force Two, I think that’s a horrible thing.”
BHR did not reply to phone calls or emails and its corporate office in Beijing was closed to visitors on Friday.
The company is facing challenges investing overseas after Beijing imposed draconian controls on outbound investments in 2016. Its website shows its latest deal was on April 20, 2017.
Additional reporting by Sarah Zheng and Zhou Xin
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