Sunday, November 01, 2020

Hunter Biden’s Ukraine contact allegedly a ‘fixer’ for shady oligarchs

 By Dana Kennedy | New York Post


Vadym and Pozharskyi and Hunter Biden Getty Images; Bella Bellini

Trim, prone to sharp suits and with a Jason Statham vibe, Vadym Pozharskyi is the mysterious “advisor” to the head of Ukraine’s notorious Burisma oil and natural gas company — and the man at the center of the latest Biden family scandal.

As operatives for Ukrainian oligarchs go, Pozharskyi, 41, is one of the toughest, trained in the trenches of one of the world’s most corrupt countries, say sources familiar with him.

He’s been linked to Hunter Biden, 50, since Biden joined the company’s board in 2014. The son of then-Vice President Joe Biden was useful to Pozharskyi as a liaison to the powerful in Washington, DC. At home, Biden’s appointment to the Burisma board at a salary of $50,000 a month would give a shiny patina to what had sometimes been seen as a corrupt company.

Since 2014, four journalists have uncovered links between the myriad offshore companies that are part of Burisma Holdings and Ukraine’s most powerful, ruthless oligarch, Igor Kolomoisky. Shrouded in secrecy, Burisma has been described as “a big shell company network of a classic British kind, with ownership and control completely obfuscated.”

According to emails obtained by the Post, Hunter introduced his veep dad to Pozharskyi less than a year before Joe Biden leaned on government officials in Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was investigating the $400 million company.

“Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together,” Pozharskyi wrote to Hunter Biden on April 17, 2015. “It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure.”

An earlier email from May 2014 shows Pozharskyi asking Hunter for “advice on how you could use your influence” on the company’s behalf.

The emails — which directly contradict Joe Biden’s claim that he’s “never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings” — were contained in a massive trove of data recovered from a laptop computer Hunter Biden left with a Delaware repairman. A copy of the hard drive was later given to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who provided a copy to The Post.

The Biden campaign has denied that Joe Biden ever had an “official” meeting with Pozharskyi but later admitted it couldn’t rule out that the two men had ever met.

Pozharskyi met plenty of powerbrokers during his frequent forays to Washington and New York. He was pictured with US Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker, who served as a US special representative to Ukraine, and Daniel Fried, US Ambassador to Poland, at meetings of the Atlantic Council, a DC-based think tank partially funded by Burisma.

Hunter Biden left Burisma in 2019 but Pozharskyi, the No. 3 executive at the company, is believed to still be connected to it. Pozharskyi’s current whereabouts are unknown. He did not return emails from The Post, nor did anyone at Burisma. Phone calls to Burisma’s offices in Kiev, Cyprus and London went unanswered.

But being at the center of a U.S. election scandal is not something that would likely rattle the battle-hardened veteran of Ukraine’s lawless past, when corporations literally were at war.

Pozharskyi forged his career at a time in post-Soviet Ukraine when, analysts say, ruthless businessmen like Kolomoisky used their own private armies to wrest control of other companies. Because the military was so weak, private military battalions funded in part by oligarchs often operated with impunity in the country – both fending off Russian separatists and lining their own coffers by strong-arming energy companies they wanted to take over.

The same oligarchs were also often charged with money laundering and embezzlement. They would often flee the country to avoid prosecution — and just as often returned in triumph to  loot the country all over again

His boss, the oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, established Burisma in 2002, 11 years after the fall of the Soviet Union. Zlochevsky was once Ukraine’s powerful minister of ecology and natural resources. Burisma is the largest gas producer in Ukraine, and is involved in the exploration, production, processing, transportation and sale of hydrocarbons.

Hunter Biden joined Burisma’s board right after the 2014 Maidan Revolution, in which armed protesters seized government buildings and overthrew corrupt, pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych. A hated figure in Ukraine, Yanukovych was convicted of treason and sentenced to 13 years in prison by a Kiev court last year.

In April 2014, British fraud investigators froze $23 million of Zlochevsky’s assets. Last year, Ukraine’s prosecutor general said Zlochevsky was suspected of “theft of government funds on an especially large scale.”

Zlochevsky, 54, decamped to Monaco, but Pozharskyi stayed behind in Kiev to take care of business, according to Ukrainian media. Pozharskyi also travels to Monaco, where he, Zlochevsky and Prince Albert once presided over the annual Energy Security Forum.

“Pozharskyi’s the kind of guy who greases the wheels, shakes the hands and gets the trains to run on time,” a Moscow-based fixer familiar with eastern European oligarchs told The Post. “He’s not spending that much time on yachts like the boss. He’s out hustling and networking.”

Pozharskyi has a law degree from the University of East Anglia in the UK and a master’s degree in European Law from Leiden University in the Netherlands, according to online biographies. His official title at Burisma is director of international cooperation and strategic development. Little is known about his personal life.

“Pozharskyi is a technocrat of the reformer generation whose work on behalf of oligarchs is unavoidable because the oligarchs dominate key industries and hire the best fixers money can buy,” said an American think tank specialist on the Ukraine who, like many interviewed by The Post for this story, did not want to be named.

Less well known, but potentially more sinister, are Pozharskyi’s reported ties — by way of his position with Burisma — to Ukraine’s most thuggish billionaire, the larger-than-life Kolomoisky.

In 2015, veteran Russian writer and investigator John Helmer, author of “The Man Who Knows Too Much About Russia,” suggested that Zlochevsky and Pozharskyi were front men for Kolomoisky at Burisma.

He is not the type of “businessman” the Bidens would want to be associated with, said one Ukraine expert. In August, the U.S. Justice Department accused Kolomoisky of robbing billions from the PrivatGroup bank he owned and using the many companies he has all over the world, including the U.S., to launder it.

The Bond villain-like Kolomoisky, 57, reportedly kept a live shark in a huge tank in his office to intimidate visitors, and once called the 5-foot-7 Russian President Vladimir Putin a “schizophrenic dwarf.”

But his bloodthirstiness reportedly matched his bravado. He crushed Russian separatists with his own private armies, according to numerous Ukrainian and international media reports, and he allegedly ordered contract killings, including a hit on a Ukrainian lawyer as well as the murders of gang members involved in the hit, the Daily Beast reported.

Some of the allegations surfaced in UK court proceedings in a case ultimately settled out of court, the Telegraph reported.

Kolomoisky has never been charged with murder. He has refuted such allegations and also denied involvement with Burisma. Mike Sullivan, a U.S.-based attorney for Kolomoisky, did not return phone calls or emails from The Post.

He has three nationalities — Ukrainian, Cypriot and Israeli — and is reportedly worth about $1.2 billion. He backed the election last year of Ukraine’s current president, Volodymyr Zelensky, a TV comedian known for, among other things, playing the piano with his penis.

“Kolomoisky was a known thug in his business practices and his organizing of armed militias,” Russ Bellant, an expert on Ukraine and the author of “Old Nazis, the New Right and the Republican Party,” told The Post.

Bellant, Helmer and writer Richard Smith have said that Kolomoisky’s shady Privat Group may have owned some or part of Burisma, though no one has proven it.

Earlier this year Bellant went so far as to refer to Kolomoisky as the head of Burisma in an essay.

He said he was writing about the Bidens and Ukraine as a way to “unburden myself and tell this to those who care about the election.”