A Democratic consulting firm linked to Hunter Biden registered with the Department of Justice as a foreign agent of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.
The founders of Blue Star Strategies said in filings under the Foreign Agents Registration Act that they arranged two meetings in 2016 between State Department officials and an attorney of Burisma owner Nikolai Zlochevsky. The founders of the firm, Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano, sought to assess the government's position towards Zlochevsky, who was under an international bribery investigation. They began working for Burisma in late 2015 after an introduction from Hunter Biden. Biden's work for the scandal-plagued Burisma drew scrutiny at the time because his father served as the United States' government's chief liaison to Ukraine.
The filing could mark a significant development in a federal investigation into Biden and his cronies' foreign business dealings. Federal prosecutors are reportedly probing Hunter Biden's work in Ukraine and China. Prosecutors have also reportedly investigated whether Painter and Tramontano, who served in the Clinton administration, violated foreign agent laws by failing to disclose their work for Burisma.
Biden, who joined Burisma's board in April 2014, has claimed his job was to advise the company on international energy deals. But emails from his abandoned laptop show he played a key role in Burisma's public relations efforts in the West. Biden served as the middleman between Burisma and Blue Star for a consulting deal to burnish Burisma's reputation in the eyes of U.S. government officials.
Blue Star's retroactive foreign agent disclosure could be related to the looming federal investigation, or even be part of a settlement deal with prosecutors. The firm said it is registering its work for Burisma "pursuant to guidance from Department of Justice personnel."
According to the foreign agent filing, Blue Star Strategies set up meetings for Zlochevsky's lawyer and State Department officials Amos Hochstein and Catherine Novelli to discuss the United States government's position towards Zlochevsky.
Painter and Tramontano later helped Burisma's public relations efforts by arranging a partnership with Atlantic Council, one of Washington's top foreign policy think tanks. Burisma paid Atlantic Council $300,000 beginning in 2017 to host policy events for the energy company. The think tank entered the partnership despite warnings from State Department officials regarding Burisma's negative reputation.