Hunter Biden said his business relationship with a mysterious Chinese tycoon later arrested on money laundering charges had "everything to do with my last name," previously unreported emails show.
Biden and his associates met in April 2010 with businessman Che Fung to lay the groundwork for a partnership to invest in companies in China and the United States, according to emails from Biden's abandoned laptop. Other emails show the Biden consortium discussing a deal with Che's company, Ever Union Capital, to invest up to $150 million in partnership with China's sovereign wealth fund. In a Sept. 23, 2011, email to his partner Devon Archer, Biden admitted Che wanted to work with him because of his father, then-vice president Joe Biden.
The emails provide another example of the younger Biden using his family name to further his foreign business interests, undercutting Joe Biden's claims to the contrary. Hunter Biden landed a high-paying position on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings in 2014, just as his father was taking over the Obama administration's Ukraine portfolio. Some of Biden's associates recognized the importance of his family ties to their business deals. One Biden partner touted the "political and strategic value of the Biden family" during 2017 negotiations with a Chinese energy conglomerate.
Che's fate raises the likelihood that Chinese authorities knew of Biden's business dealings. Che, who is reported to be the son-in-law of a former chief of China's central bank, was arrested on Feb. 2, 2015, on charges that he laundered $15 billion. According to one report, Che provided investigators with details of his business activity. It is unclear if he discussed his links to Biden, though the Chinese government would likely have been interested in details of his interactions with the son of an American vice president.
Republicans have asserted that Biden's foreign business dealings created blackmail opportunities against the Biden family. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) said in a report last year that Biden's partnerships presented "serious counterintelligence and extortion concerns."
The Biden emails portray an air of mystery surrounding Che, who has been described in press reports as "shadowy and discreet." Biden and his business partners referred to Che cryptically as "Super Chairman" and "Mr. Che." His full name is mentioned in just one email from April 2010 that sets up an introductory lunch meeting in Washington, D.C., between the mogul and the Biden consortium.
While the emails show Biden and his partners discussing details of the investment fund, they do not indicate what came of the negotiations with Che. But the businessmen involved in the discussions would later partner on one of Biden's most controversial business deals. One email from the laptop describes Che as a "close business partner" of Chinese investment banker Jonathan Li.
Biden has come under scrutiny for introducing his father to Li during an official U.S. government trip to Beijing in 2013. Emails show that Li, Biden, and two other businessmen, James Bulger and Michael Lin, discussed the investment fund with Che. According to one email, Che planned to commit $100 million to the partnership while granting an investment stake to China Investment Corporation, the Chinese government's sovereign wealth fund, and other "high power" Chinese firms.
Biden, Archer, Li, Lin, and Bulger in 2013 formed the private equity firm Bohai Harvest Rosemont Partners, known as BHR Partners. Biden has come under fire for failing to divest a 10-percent ownership stake in the partnership, even though he pledged to do so in 2019. The White House has refused to answer questions about the investment.
Emails show Biden and Archer saw the deal with Che as a huge financial opportunity and a way to gain influence with investment companies, such as Blackstone and the Carlyle Group, that sought business in China.
"I dont believe in lottery tickets anymore, but I do believe in the super chairman," Biden wrote to Archer in a September 23, 2011, email. "Things are moving rapidly and the percentage he is offering me is much larger than I at first thought," he added.
"This can be a serious opportunity," Archer wrote. "Not only … from an economics standpoint but from the leverage in access it provides with the big boys here in the west who all need China."
Archer was indicted in 2016 on charges that he and a group of business associates defrauded a Native American tribe in a $60 million bond scheme. Biden himself is under federal investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in Delaware over his tax affairs and foreign business dealings.
Che is not the only Biden-linked Chinese tycoon to run afoul of Chinese authorities. Biden formed a close relationship with Ye Jianming, the president of the CEFC China Energy. CEFC paid Biden at least $6 million in 2016 and 2017, according to the report released by Grassley and Johnson. Of that sum, CEFC paid Biden $1 million to represent CEFC executive Patrick Ho, who was charged with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by offering bribes to two African officials during the United Nations General Assembly in 2012. Chinese authorities in 2018 arrested Ye on fraud charges.
None of Biden's partners responded to requests for comment about Che. Biden's lawyer also did not respond to a request for comment.