Board of directors
A number of non-Ukrainian directors were appointed in 2014, including Aleksander Kwaśniewski, former President of the Republic of Poland, appointed in January 2014.
On 18 April 2014, Hunter Biden, the son of then-Vice President Joe Biden, who managed US-Ukraine relations for the Obama administration, was appointed to the board of Burisma Holdings. In February 2016, Joseph Cofer Black, the Director of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center (CTC) (1999-2002) in the George W. Bush administration and Ambassador at Large for counter-terrorism (2002-2004) joined Burisma's Board of Directors.
Burisma Group was founded in 2002 by Ukrainian businessman Nikolai Zlochevsky (also known as Mykola Zlochevsky), the former Minister of Ecology for Ukraine, and Nikolay Lysin. Now it is owned solely by Nikolai Zlochevsky. As Ecology Minister, Zlochevsky issued a “special permit for the extraction of a third of the gas produced in Ukraine” to his own company, Burisma.
According to the Soros NGO “Anti Corruption Action Center” in Kyiv, Zlochevsky owns 38 permits held by 14 different companies—with Burisma accounting for the majority with 33 of the permits. Zlochevsky left Ukraine after former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia during the 2014 Ukrainian coup. Vice President Joe Biden managed US-Ukraine relations for the Obama administration. Biden traveled to Ukraine 17 times during his tenure as vice president. Biden steered $1.8 billion in aid to the Ukrainian government.
In the spring of 2014, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office opened an investigation at the behest of the UK prosecutors office, which was investigating money laundering allegations against its owner, former Ukrainian Ecology Minister Nikolai Zlochevsky (also known as Mykola Zlochevsky) and had just frozen $23.5 million in assets allegedly belonging to him in early April 2014. On April 18, 2014 Biden's son, Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of directors of Burisma. According to The Hill Biden's firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners, was receiving regular payments—“usually more than $166,000 a month”—from Burisma. The payments ran from the spring of 2014 through the fall of 2015 and reportedly totaled more than $3 million.
Ukrainian prosecutors refused to provide the UK with needed documents and in January 2015 a British court ordered the assets unfrozen. This action was pointedly called out in a speech by U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, who stated “In the case of former Ecology Minister Mykola Zlochevsky, the U.K. authorities had seized $23 million in illicit assets that belonged to the Ukrainian people.” Instead of receiving cooperation from Ukrainian prosecutors, they “sent letters to Zlochevsky’s attorneys attesting that there was no case against him. As a result, the money was freed by the U.K. court, and shortly thereafter the money was moved to Cyprus.”
On Feb. 10, 2015, Viktor Shokin was appointed as the Prosecutor General of the Ukraine and he picked up the investigation into Burisma, which reportedly continued until his removal in February 2016. The Hill article included a written answer from Shokin who said his investigation into Burisma had included plans for “interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden.”
After Hunter Biden's appointment was announced, press articles raised concerns about Biden's potential conflicts with US government positions. CNN stated that "The [Biden] appointment caused a stir, given that it occurred around the same time that his father and the White House were engaged in diplomatic missions in the region to wean Ukraine off Russian energy sources. Critics argued that Hunter's work for a country promoting Ukrainian energy independence was a blatant conflict of interest."
Morgan Williams, director of the US-Ukraine Business Council, discerned a conflict, though he had seen no direct evidence of one. He argued it was a problem of appearance, as there was an "unspoken" American tradition that "frowns" on "close family members of government working for organizations with business links to active politics."
- Nwazor, Toby (2017-02-22). Former CIA Director Joins Burisma, and It Is Good News (en).
- Affidavit of Viktor Shokin on Biden shakedown, September 4, 2019.