Foreign Agent Cases Loom Over Hunter Biden’s Plea Deal

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
July 26, 2023

Hunter Biden’s foreign business ventures were a point of contention during a whirlwind courtroom hearing, during which the first son’s attorneys balked at a plea agreement that could leave their client open to charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent.

The drama, which unfolded Wednesday during a discussion about the terms of Biden’s plea deal on misdemeanor tax crimes and a felony gun charge, suggests that foreign agent charges are a source of concern for the embattled first son.

Here are the cases that could keep Biden up at night.


CEFC China Energy 

The Chinese energy conglomerate, which has been linked to the Chinese Communist Party, paid Hunter Biden $6 million for consulting and legal work in 2017 and 2018. For his services, Biden scouted out business deals for CEFC China Energy that he said would contribute to "the benefits for our two great countries." At the time, CEFC China Energy developed infrastructure projects for Beijing’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative.

The Justice Department considers CEFC China Energy a foreign principal for the purposes of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, according to its recent indictment of Israeli-American think tank executive Gal Luft. According to prosecutors, CEFC paid Luft to produce op-eds that touted Chinese government policies, including Belt and Road.

Luft’s case has drawn particular attention because he allegedly told the FBI in 2019 that CEFC China Energy paid Hunter Biden to help find out whether the U.S. government was investigating the company.


Burisma Holdings

Ukrainian gas giant Burisma Holdings paid Hunter Biden millions of dollars from 2014 to 2018, during which time he served on its board of directors.

A review of Hunter Biden’s emails, and allegations from his former business partner, suggest Hunter Biden advocated for Burisma Holdings with American officials, including his father when he served as vice president.

Devon Archer, who served with Hunter Biden on Burisma’s board, reportedly plans to tell Congress next week that the younger Biden routinely put his dad on speakerphone during meetings with Burisma’s owner.

According to emails from Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop, he recruited the white shoe law firm Boies Schiller Flexner and the public relations firm Blue Star Strategies to mount a public relations and lobbying campaign to bolster Burisma’s image in the United States.

The Justice Department investigated Blue Star Strategies and required the firm to retroactively register its work for Burisma Holdings under the Foreign Agent Registrations Act. Biden has not filed a similar disclosure.


Romanian businessman Gabriel Popoviciu

Hunter Biden met with the United States’ ambassador to Romania on behalf of a Romanian businessman seeking American support in his bribery case in Europe.

According to emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop, he met several times in 2015 and 2016 with Ambassador Hans Klemm to discuss an ongoing investigation into Gabriel Popoviciu, a Romanian real estate magnate who faced bribery investigations in Europe. Popoviciu paid Hunter Biden at least $1 million to help with his case, according to bank records.

Hunter Biden tapped former FBI director Louis Freeh, a longtime family friend, to help with the Popoviciu case, according to emails. Freeh discussed the investigation with top FBI officials and American diplomats. Neither Hunter Biden nor Freeh registered their activity under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The Washington Free Beacon reported that one of the prosecutors handling Hunter Biden’s case served as Freeh’s chief of staff from 2012 to 2014.


BHR Partners

Hunter Biden spearheaded a lobbying campaign that helped a Chinese Communist Party front group gain a foothold in the United States.

According to emails, Hunter Biden and his associates arranged meetings at the State Department to get the Obama-Biden administration to formally recognize a partnership between the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the State Legislative Leaders Foundation. Hunter Biden and his associates hoped that the official recognition would open doors for them in Beijing, where they were angling for a multimillion-dollar partnership with a firm called Harvest Management.

Emails show Hunter Biden told his partners on the venture that he would provide "whatever you need on this" to "make it work." He arranged meetings for his partner and then-State Department official Evan Ryan, who is married to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and serves as White House cabinet secretary.