A consulting firm linked to Hunter Biden that did work for Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that paid the Biden scion $83,000 a month to sit on its board, is under investigation by the Justice Department, according to a report on Thursday.
Blue Star Strategies is being probed for potential illegal lobbying after it took on Burisma as a client while Hunter was on its board, Politico reported.
The US Attorney’s Office in Delaware, which is already investigating Hunter for possible “tax” violations, is working with lawyers in the Justice Department’s National Security Division in Washington, DC, the report said.
One aspect of the investigation is whether Blue Star failed to comply with the Foreign Agents Registration Act that requires Americans to disclose lobbying work for foreign entities.
The report noted that there is no indication that Hunter is a target in the investigation, and Karen Tramontano, one of the firm’s co-founders, testified that the president’s son did not direct any of Blue Star’s work on behalf of Burisma.
Hunter’s association with Burisma was the subject of a series of exposés The Post published last October that highlighted his questionable foreign business dealings and his father’s involvement.
Blue Star, a high-powered Washington lobbying firm that also has offices in Brussels, Buenos Aires, Paris and Vienna, took on Burisma as a client in November 2015.
The energy company’s founder had been caught up in a dispute with British authorities over millions of dollars and was hit with accusations of corruption by the then-US ambassador to Ukraine.
Mykola Zlochevsky, Ukraine’s natural resources minister from July 2010 to April 2012, controlled Burisma.
British authorities in April 2014 seized $23 million from Zlochevsky, alleging that it had been corruptly misappropriated, the report said.
Then in January 2015 a British judge ruled in favor of Zlochevsky, saying he could get his money back because of a letter from Ukraine’s prosecutor that he was not under investigation.
But then-US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt accused Burisma of corruption and slammed the prosecutor’s office for aiding Zlochevsky in getting his millions back, which is when Burisma’s top officials sought out Blue Star’s help.
Devon Archer, who with Hunter Biden founded the investment firm Rosemont Seneca, put Blue Star in touch with Burisma, the report said, citing testimony from Tramontano to Congress in August 2020.
Blue Star’s co-founders met with US government officials during their representation of Burisma, according to congressional testimony, but they did not disclose to the Justice Department that Burisma was a client.
The deputy CEO of Burisma declined to comment when contacted by Politico, and a lawyer who represents Zlochevsky and Burisma did not comment.
Tramontano, a former deputy chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, testified that she didn’t know Hunter was on the Burisma board when she began discussions with Archer and couldn’t say when she learned he was on the board, but that she had known him before.
She said Burisma hired Blue Star to find out why Pyatt had slammed the company as corrupt and to determine if his views reflected those of the State Department.
But Blue Star’s co-founders did note that Hunter was on Burisma’s board when they talked to the State Department about setting up a meeting, the report said, citing the Wall Street Journal.
They “mentioned him again during the meeting as part of an effort to improve Burisma’s image in Washington,” according to the report.
Tramontano admitted that she met with a number of US officials on behalf of Burisma but claimed she did not try to influence US policy.
But Amos Hochstein, who met with Blue Star officials, including Tramontano when he was handling international energy affairs at the State Department, said they wanted him to know they “were frustrated with — did not agree with the U.S. government officials’ view of Mr. Zlochevsky.”
He also said Tramontano revealed a report that said Zlochevsky had been cleared of corruption charges.
In another meeting in March 2016, Hochstein said Blue Star officials and a Burisma lawyer were “unhappy with the rhetoric from U.S. officials.”
“They were unhappy with the rhetoric from U.S. officials, myself included, regarding Mr. Zlochevsky,” Hochstein said.
David Laufman, who oversaw FARA enforcement at the Justice Department between 2014 to 2018, told Politico that the Justice Department could “arguably assess” that Blue Star was engaged in “political activities” that would compel it to register under FARA.
But the company may also be eligible for an exemption if it solely represented the business interests of Burisma, he said.
The Ukrainian government was not involved with Blue Star’s work in the US and the firm’s representation did not promote the “public or political interests of the Ukrainian government or a Ukrainian political party.”