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Hunter Biden was working with a Chinese oil company in Kazakhstan that is now under US sanctions and a former Kazakh prime minister now accused of treason to broker a lucrative pipeline deal, DailyMail.com can reveal.
Emails obtained by DailyMail.com show the president’s son teamed up with the former Kazakh prime minister Karim Massimov, now facing charges of high treason, to try to pull off a $120million pipeline deal after similar ventures had faced opposition from Western energy firms.
There is no indication Massimov’s charges are connected to Hunter’s pipeline deal.
One of Hunter’s proposed Kazakh energy deals involved the State China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), one of China’s biggest oil firms.
The company was sanctioned in 2020 and again last year for its alleged involvement in the Chinese government’s ‘coercive behavior in the South China Sea’.
Emails obtained by DailyMail.com show Hunter Biden had worked with former Kazakh prime minister Karim Massimov (pictured far right with Hunter and President Joe Biden in an undated photo) to try to pull off a $120M pipeline deal
Massimov was fired from his security committee role and charged with treason in January
Emails from Hunter’s abandoned laptop show he traveled to Beijing and Kazakhstan to forge a blockbuster oil deal between the two countries in 2014 and 2015.
Hunter brokered the deal on behalf of a Ukrainian gas firm Burisma on whose board he sat.
His role at the firm, owned by an oligarch accused of corruption, is already deeply controversial.
But the involvement of Hunter’s Chinese business partners with Burisma adds a new and troubling dimension to his dealings in Eastern Europe – indicating that he was working on a deal that could indirectly further the energy interests of the Chinese government while hoping to collect millions of dollars for himself.
CNOOC had been trying for years to break into the Kazakh energy market, a strategically advantageous source of oil and gas for China previously dubbed ‘the second Middle East’ by its chief financial officer.
The Chinese oil giant tried to buy a $615million piece of Kazakhstan’s North Caspian Sea Project from a unit of British gas company BG Group in 2003, but was blocked by a group of Western companies including Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch/Shell and TotalFinaElf.
Kazakh and Chinese governments have also talked for years about building a pipeline between the two countries. A previous 1997 agreement stalled over cost worries, but the appetite for massive infrastructure projects was rekindled with China’s expansionist ‘belt and road initiative’ in 2013.
So when one of Hunter’s Chinese business partners emailed him in April 2014 saying CNOOC wanted to work with them, he saw dollar signs.
Joe Biden (second from right) and his son, Hunter (far right), golfing in the Hamptons with Devon Archer (far left), who served on the board of Burisma with Hunter. The photo from 2014 emerged during the presidential campaign
An April 2014 email shows Hunter’s Chinese business partners at Bohai contacted him and Devon Archer to say CNOOC was interested in working with Burisma
Months later, in an email to Burisma executive Vadim Pozharsky, Hunter wrote that ‘one of the principal reasons’ for his May 2014 meeting in Beijing was ‘to discuss possible cooperation with CNOC/China and Burisma’
‘I had a meeting with Mr. Luo Weizhong, the General Manger of CNOOC Gas & Power Group,’ wrote Ziben Lu, an associate at Bohai, a Chinese investment firm Hunter partnered with.
‘Mr. Luo informed us that as the third largest LNG [liquid natural gas] purchaser in the world, CNOOC Gas & Power are making large cross boarder [sic] investments.’
Lu said CNOOC was looking to fund projects in countries with a ‘friendly political environment’ and ‘welcomes Bohai as strategic partner’.
‘If you have deal opportunities regarding natural gas in the region mentions above, please let us know and have a discussion,’ Lu wrote.
Devon Archer, Hunter’s longtime friend and business partner who also had a Burisma board position, wrote to Hunter excited that the offer could make them rich.
‘If we can connect the dots here between CNOOC and Burisma we can do only that, forever. Let’s brainstorm,’ he wrote.
‘Thinking the same thing. Fraught with many land mines- but…’ Hunter replied.
Less than a month later, he was on a plane to Beijing for a Bohai board meeting and introductions to CNOOC executives.
In an email to Burisma executive Vadim Pozharsky, Hunter wrote that ‘one of the principal reasons’ for his May 2014 meeting in Beijing was ‘to discuss possible cooperation with CNOC/China and Burisma.’
‘Please let Nikolay [Zlochevsky, Burisma president] know that I’m excited to be joining the team- we have lots of work ahead, but great opportunities also,’ he wrote.
After teeing up their deal with the Chinese, Devon wrote to Vadim that they had secured a meeting with the Kazakh prime minister, ‘Masimof,’ for June 2, 2014
Devon wrote that after his meeting with Masimof he planned to fly from the Kazakh capital to Beijing to update their Chinese backers
Despite flying into an authoritarian post-Soviet country for meetings with politicians with murky backgrounds, Hunter mysteriously decided to ditch his Secret Service detail which usually traveled with him while his father was vice president in 2014
Hunter’s previous involvement with CNOOC could present a conflict of interest for President Joe Biden, whose administration imposed sanctions on the company.
The US Commerce Department claimed CNOOC ‘has repeatedly harassed and threatened offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction in the South China Sea, with the goal of driving up the political risk for interested foreign partners, including Vietnam.’
The Department’s sanctions only cover the company’s activity in the South China Sea, not their other global operations.
After teeing up their deal with the Chinese, Devon wrote to Vadim that they had secured a meeting with the Kazakh prime minister, ‘Masimof,’ for June 2, 2014.
‘Everything will revolve around that meeting and the subject will be securing the highest quality proven reserve fields in KZ [Kazakhstan],’ he said. ‘Additional concepts for cooperation will be discussed as well.’
Devon wrote that after his meeting with Masimof he planned to fly from the Kazakh capital to Beijing to update their Chinese backers.
‘There is a preliminary plan from there for me and Alex to travel to Beijing from Astana.
‘If we are able to coordinate CNOOC cooperation meetings in that time frame we would be hopeful you and Nikoly can join as well,’ he said in the May 7, 2014 email.
Massimov served as Kazakhstan’s prime minister from 2007 to 2012 and again from 2014 to 2016
In emails Hunter described Massimov as a ‘close friend’ and his son Iskander as ‘a very good friend’. He also said Archer was ‘very close’ with both Massimov and his son
Hunter again refers to the former prime minister as a ‘close friend’ in another email in January 2016
Emails between Hunter and Devon show their plan was for the Kazakh government to grant drilling rights to CNOOC, with the rigs and wells being operated by Burisma.
Devon described the deal as a lucrative ‘silver bullet’ for them.
An April 2015 email between Hunter and his Chinese Bohai business partners also mentions a ‘Project Carmen’ in Kazakhstan, with a ‘target investment’ of $120million including $40million fronted by the Chinese.
It is unclear from Hunter’s emails whether they pulled off either deal – though Hunter and his family received at least $31million in total through his Bohai partnership and other deals with the Chinese, and was paid more than $83,000 a month for his Burisma board seat.
Despite flying into the heart of an authoritarian post-Soviet country for meetings with politicians with murky backgrounds, in 2014 Hunter mysteriously decided to ditch his Secret Service detail which usually traveled with him while his father was vice president.
‘Vadim – I’ve chosen to carry on from Paris with out the Secret Service,’ Hunter wrote to the Burisma president on May 26, 2014.
‘They are not happy about it, but it seemed far too complicated and unnecessary.’
The trip and Hunter’s other overseas travel is now being scrutinized by senior senator and judiciary committee ranking member Chuck Grassley.
The senator told Fox News in January that obtaining Hunter’s heavily redacted travel records held by the USSS was like ‘pulling teeth’ and that he ‘can’t draw any other conclusions’ than the agency is covering for the president’s son.
An April 2015 email between Hunter and his Chinese Bohai business partners also mentions a ‘Project Carmen’ in Kazakhstan, with a ‘target investment’ of $120million including $40million fronted by the Chinese
Previously published emails showed Archer was invited to a ‘small private breakfast’ with Massimov at his Willard Hotel suite on the same day Hunter invited three Kazakh businessmen as well as a Russian billionaire and a corrupt former Moscow mayor to a dinner at a DC cafe with his father when Joe Biden was vice president in 2015
Hunter’s former role at Burisma a firm owned by an oligarch accused of corruption, has been deeply controversial
At the time of Hunter’s meeting in Kazakhstan, Massimov had recently been appointed in his second stint as prime minister.
He later served as head of the Kazakh National Security Committee, often described as the post-Soviet KGB – and was rumored to have once been a KGB agent himself.
Massimov became an accomplished linguist in the 1980s, studying Arabic in Moscow and Chinese in Beijing.
When Kazakhstan gained independence from the USSR in 1991 he became a trade representative for the post-Soviet country in China and Hong Kong.
Amid an overhaul of top government officials following protests in Kazakhstan in January this year, Massimov was fired from his security committee role and charged with treason.
Although details of the charges have not yet been released by the Kazakh authorities, there is no indication they are connected to his involvement in Hunter’s oil deal.
In emails Hunter described Massimov as a ‘close friend’ and his son Iskander as ‘a very good friend’. He also said Archer was ‘very close’ with both Massimov and his son.
In April 2015 Hunter invited three Kazakh businessmen as well as a Russian billionaire and a corrupt former Moscow mayor to a dinner at a DC cafe with his father when Joe Biden was vice president – sparking one of a string of scandals over Hunter using access to his father to further his commercial ventures.
‘The reason for the dinner is ostensibly to discuss food security,’ he told one guest in an email. ‘Dad will be there but keep that between us for now.’
Among the Kazakh invitees was Marc Holtzman, then chairman of the former Soviet republic’s largest bank, Kazkommertsbank.
The morning of the meeting, Archer was invited to a ‘small private breakfast’ with Massimov at his Willard Hotel suite.
‘There are several matters the Prime Minister is eager to discuss with you and he will be grateful for the opportunity to spend quality time together,’ Massimov’s aide wrote to Archer.
An unverified photograph posted on a Kazakhstani anti-corruption website in 2019 shows Massimov, oligarch Kenes Rakishev, Hunter and Joe Biden smiling together.
Rakishev is not accused of any wrongdoing.