Former Biden family business associate Devon Archer told House investigators that executives at the Ukraine energy firm Burisma were desperate for President Biden’s help in tamping down a state-run corruption probe into their company and asked Hunter Biden to call his father, then the vice president.
The younger Mr. Biden, who at the time was collecting a $1 million salary as a member of the Burisma board, rang up his father, who he often referred to as “my guy,” at the request of Burisma President Mykola Zlochevsky and another top Burisma official, Vadym Pozharskyi.
But the then-vice president was not mentioned by name, Archer said.
“It was always this amorphous, ‘Can we get help in D.C.?’” he recalled.
The description of the call, which took place in December 2015 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dubai, was part of a four-hour deposition Archer provided in a transcribed interview with House lawmakers earlier this week. The transcript was obtained by The Washington Times.
Archer, who is facing a yearlong prison sentence following an unrelated securities fraud conviction, was once Hunter Biden’s best friend and closest business partner. The two founded the Rosemont Seneca investment firm and also served together on the Burisma board.
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Archer said he was not near Hunter Biden when he and the Burisma executive made the call to “D.C.”
But Archer said he learned Hunter Biden phoned then-Vice President Biden because Mr. Pozharskyi told him about it the next day.
“I did not hear this phone call, but he called his dad,” Archer said.
The transcript detailed Archer’s description of how lucrative deals were cut by promoting the Biden “brand,” which was essentially Joe Biden, and to a lesser extent, Hunter Biden, a lawyer and lobbyist.
Joe Biden, Archer said, “brought most of the value to the brand,” and did so in part by phoning in to roughly 20 business meetings Hunter Biden and Archer were having, many with foreign nationals.
The then-vice president dropped in by speaker phone when Hunter Biden and Archer were meeting in Paris with executives from a major French energy company and also phoned into a Beijing meeting with Chinese investment firm executives. Mr. Biden also showed up in person to at least two dinners Hunter Biden and Archer held with business associates in Washington.
Archer said the Biden “brand” was particularly valuable to Burisma, which was seeking entry into the European and U.S. energy market but was hobbled by corruption allegations. Company money was frozen in a London bank and Mr. Zlochevsky was denied visas in both the U.S. and Mexico.
Hunter Biden was valued by Burisma “as a lobbyist and an expert and, obviously, he carried a very powerful name,” Archer said.
When Burisma asked Hunter Biden to call “D.C.,” Archer said, “That’s what they were asking for.”
Archer told investigators that Burisma “would have gone out of business if ‘the brand’ had not been attached to it.”
House investigators, according to the transcript, said Burisma had hired the lobbying firm Blue Star Strategies to help shake off Ukraine prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was leading the investigation into corruption allegations swirling around the company.
Mr. Shokin was ousted in March 2016. Mr. Biden later bragged he was responsible for pushing out Mr. Shokin by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loans from Ukraine unless he was removed.
Mr. Shokin had been making life uncomfortable for Mr. Zlochevsky.
Two months before his firing, according to GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mr. Shokin’s office “announced the seizure of property from … Burisma Holding’s founder, Mykola Zlochevsky.”
Archer told House investigators he was “spun” a different narrative “from various folks in D.C.” who told him Burisma actually wanted Mr. Shokin to remain in office because “he was under control as relates to Mykola.”
“Whether it’s true or not, I cannot speculate,” Archer said.
Archer’s testimony provided an eyewitness account to House investigators probing the Biden family’s lucrative foreign business deals and whether President Biden was involved in any of them.
The president has denied ever knowing of, or participating in, any of his son’s deals, but Archer’s account puts the then-vice president right in the center of his son’s business with Russian, Chinese and Ukraine nationals.
In one instance, Mr. Biden phoned into a meeting Hunter Biden and Archer were holding in Beijing with Jonathan Li, the CEO of investment fund BHR.
“There was no business conversation,” Archer said. “It was just general niceties and, you know, conversation in general, about the geography, about the weather, whatever it may be.”
Archer confirmed that the elder Mr. Biden later had coffee with Mr. Li.
The Li-Biden connection has been documented by House investigators.
In 2013, Vice President Biden took his son along on Air Force Two to China. During the trip, Hunter Biden met with Li and arranged for him to shake hands with his father. Shortly thereafter, BHR’s business license was approved and Hunter Biden was named a board member and held a 10% stake in the company.
In 2017, the elder Mr. Biden wrote U.S. college recommendations for Mr. Li’s daughter.
Archer said he knew nothing about allegations made by an FBI informant that Mr. Zlochevsky paid Mr. Biden and Hunter Biden $5 million each as a bribe to push out Mr. Shokin. He said the now-defunct company’s effort to overcome corruption allegations “backfired terribly for them.”
Mr. Zlochevsky “is in hiding in Cypress right now,” Archer said.
Archer also said he didn’t know why Kazakhstan businessman Kenes Rakishev wired $142,000 in April 2014 to a Rosemont Seneca offshoot for Hunter Biden to purchase an expensive sports car.
Mr. Rakishev was not involved in any of the businesses or deals Archer and Hunter Biden were running, he said.
“I believe it was a Fisker first and then a Porsche,” Archer said, describing how the money was spent. “That was a business matter between them.”