FactCheck Social Media

No, Joe Biden hasn’t been tied to ‘huge corruption’ in Ukraine

2021-01-18 16:27:14

The Statement

A post by a New Zealand Facebook user makes several false or misleading claims about United States president-elect Joe Biden and corruption linked to Ukraine.

The post says “Joe Biden never won the election” and goes on to state that “in Ukrainian corruption investigation Biden’s name came up 400 times”.

“Obama Administration’s secret internal investigation found Joe Biden’s huge corruption link to Ukraine,” it continues. “Nancy Pelosi tried to hide the Biden family scandal by attempted impeaching (of) Donald Trump.”

At the time of writing, the post had generated more than 800 comments and reactions and been viewed more than 30,000 times.

A Facebook post
 A Facebook post falsely claims Joe Biden has been linked to corruption in Ukraine. 

The Analysis

The post makes several false statements relating to Joe Biden, many of which confuse the US president-elect with his son Hunter and unproven allegations of impropriety relating to the younger Biden’s business dealings. The president-elect has not been credibly implicated in any corruption claims.

On January 7, the US Congress certified Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election after pro-Trump rioters dramatically stormed the building.

Mr Biden won the electoral college vote 306-232, while he also received over seven million more votes than the incumbent president, Donald Trump, in the popular tally. He is due to be inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States on January 20.

Following the election, Mr Trump has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud, however the president and his allies failed to substantively prove these allegations in more than 60 lawsuits lodged in various US courts.

The post claims that in a “Ukrainian corruption investigation (Joe) Biden’s name came up 400 times”. It is unclear what this claim relates to, however it may be a reference to language used during Mr Trump’s 2019 impeachment.

Mr Trump was accused of putting pressure on the Ukrainian president to investigate Mr Biden and his son in order to increase the US incumbent’s own chances of winning again at the 2020 election. The Senate acquitted him of the two charges, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Nevertheless, the “400 times” reference from the impeachment trial relates to Hunter Biden, not his father. Hunter Biden was hired to serve on the board of directors of the Ukrainian oil and natural gas company Burisma Holdings in 2014.

Burisma and its founder Mykola Zlochevsky have repeatedly been accused of wrongdoing. State Department official George Kent told a House impeachment inquiry that Mr Zlochevsky had awarded gas exploration licenses to his own company while serving as Ukraine’s energy minister between 2010 and 2012 (page 89).

In her presentation at the subsequent Senate impeachment trial on behalf of Mr Trump, former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi said that during the Democratic House managers’ presentations for the inquiry they referenced Hunter Biden or Burisma more than 400 times (page S596).

“When (they) gave you their presentation, when they submitted their brief, they repeatedly referenced Hunter Biden and Burisma,” she said.

“They spoke to you for over 21 hours, and they referenced Biden or Burisma over 400 times. And when they gave these presentations, they said there was nothing – nothing – to see.”

Senate Republicans later released a report from their investigation into potential conflicts of interest arising from Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine while his father was vice president and involved with Ukraine policy.

That report criticised Hunter Biden’s “awkward” relationship with Burisma and money he received from various sources, including from China, saying: “Hunter Biden and his family were involved in a vast financial network that connected them to foreign nationals and foreign governments across the globe” (page 84).

However, the report did not implicate Joe Biden in any wrongdoing. Senate Democrats released a competing document attacking the Republican report, claiming the earlier document amplified discredited allegations that were part of a known Russian interference campaign.

There is no proof of a “secret internal investigation” by the Obama administration that found “Joe Biden’s huge corruption link to Ukraine”, as claimed in the post.

The Republican Senate report noted that members of the Obama administration did express concerns about the propriety of Hunter Biden’s involvement with Burisma and how it could be “very awkward for all US officials pushing an anti-corruption agenda in Ukraine” (page 4).

Again, these concerns related directly to Hunter Biden’s position on the board of Burisma, not any corruption allegations linked to his father.

Hunter Biden is currently under federal investigation over his business dealings in China, which he acknowledged in a statement released to the media on December 9. The president-elect has also not been implicated in that investigation.

Various claims relating to Joe Biden and Ukraine have previously been debunked, including that he was “wanted” in the country and that he withheld aid funding in order to help his son.

Joe Biden
 Joe Biden is due to be inaugurated as US president on January 20. 

The Verdict

The Facebook post contains multiple false statements, including several that wrongly attempt to link Joe Biden to corruption allegations. Some of the claims in the post appear to confuse Mr Biden with his son, Hunter,  who is the subject of unproven suggestions of wrongdoing in his business dealings.

It also wrongly states that Mr Biden did not win the 2020 US presidential election. The president-elect has been certified as the winner and will be inaugurated on January 20.

False – Content that has no basis in fact.

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