White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki refused to say who’d bought Hunter Biden’s recently-sold stake in a Chinese firm – and snubbed a question on whether she now believed the president’s son’s notorious stolen laptop was real.
Psaki visibly bridled when asked by the New York Post Monday about who’d bought Biden’s share in Bohai Harvest RST (Shanghai) Equity Investment Fund Management Company, a private equity firm headquartered in Shanghai.
‘The president’s son is not an employee of the federal government,’ Psaki replied.
‘So I’d point you to his representatives.’
She added: ‘You can go to the representative of the person who is not an employee of the federal government.’ Biden sold his share of the firm last month.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki is seen on Monday being asked about Hunter Biden divesting from BHR
Hunter Biden in seen in 2010, meeting Chinese executives at the offices of Thornton Group. Hunter had long been searching for business opportunities in China, and in 2013 he was among the founders of BHR, a Chinese private equity firm
Psaki was then asked by The New York Post whether she believed Hunter Biden’s laptop was real, with the reporter referencing a new book published by his colleague Miranda Devine entitled The Laptop From Hell.
In October 2020, she tweeted that claims about the laptop and its contents were ‘stolen disinfo’ – but was markedly less strident when asked if her stance had changed on Monday.
Psaki replied: ‘As it relates to the book, I’ve neither had the time or interest in exploring or reading the book.’
The laptop story was first broken by the New York Post in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. It was ignored by much of the liberal media, and smeared as false online, with Twitter notoriously suspending the Post’s account over the story.
The company Hunter Biden was linked to specializes in making investments and then flipping them for a profit.
He and two other Americans served on the board and controlled 30 per cent of BHR, with the rest of the company owned or controlled by Chinese investors that include the Bank of China, according to records filed with Chinese regulators obtained by The New York Times.
Biden’s involvement in the firm has been highly controversial, and for months Psaki has been asked whether he had divested, as both President Joe Biden and Hunter promised he would.
Hunter Biden, a Harvard-educated lawyer who has detailed his battles with drug and alcohol addiction, announced in October 2019 that he would be stepping down from BHR’s board over mounting scrutiny from his father’s presidential bid.
Hunter Biden is seen with his father Joe and his niece Natalie – daughter of Hunter’s late brother Beau – in Nantucket on Thanksgiving
Hunter is seen in Nantucket during the Thanksgiving break with the rest of the family
Hours later that same day, Joe Biden told a campaign rally in Iowa: ‘No one in my family will have an office in the White House, will sit in on meetings as if they are a cabinet member, will, in fact, have any business relationship with anyone that relates to a foreign corporation or a foreign country. Period. Period. End of story.’
Yet Hunter then struggled to disentangle himself from BHR, which was revealed by The New York Times to have, in 2016, played a key role in the transferring one of the world’s most important sources of cobalt to a Chinese-government backed mining conglomerate.
Chinese records show that Biden was no longer on BHR’s board as of April 2020, but he retained his stake in the company long after his father’s January 2021 inauguration.
Psaki was regularly asked about Biden’s progress in divesting.
In February, Psaki told a White House press briefing: ‘He has been working to unwind his investment.
‘As a private citizen, I would point you to him or his lawyers on the outside on any update.’
Asked again in October, Psaki replied: ‘You should talk to his representatives. That remains his policy. He’s been working to wind that down.
‘Beyond that, I would talk to his representatives.’
Last month, Biden’s lawyer Chris Clark told The New York Times that he ‘no longer holds any interest, directly or indirectly, in either BHR or Skaneateles.’
Skaneateles is a Washington-based firm through which Biden managed his stake in the company, which is named after the upstate New York town where his mother Neilia was born.
Hunter Biden was identified as the only governor for Skaneateles in the firm’s latest two-year report submitted to the Washington DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) on October 20 – obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Hunter Biden is seen in the bath in a photo from his infamous laptop
The 51-year-old has been candid about his struggles with drugs, alcoholism and prostitution – much of which was detailed in his laptop
Psaki’s refusal to discuss Biden’s BHR divesting comes as a new report pointed to the potential for corruption in the murky art industry – at a time when Hunter is exhibiting his expensive artwork at glitzy gallery shows.
Walter Shaub, who served as head of the Office of Government Ethics during the Obama Administration, pointed out the issue in a tweet on Monday.
‘The White House just issued a report flagging that money laundering is a problem in the… wait for it… art sale industry,’ he wrote.
He quoted the report saying: ‘The markets for art and antiquities—and the market participants who facilitate transactions—are especially vulnerable to a range of financial crimes.’
The White House issued a new report on countering corruption, including in art and land sales
He continued by quoting the report, which also pointed to real estate as an area for potential fraud.
‘Built-in opacity, lack of stable and predictable pricing, and inherent cross-border transportability of goods sold, make the market optimal for illicit value transfer, sanctions evasion, and corruption,’ it said.
Shaub has already highlighted the potential for the appearance of conflicts for the system set up by the White House for dealing with Hunter’s artwork.
Under the arrangement, the gallery owner exhibiting Hunter’s work, George Bergès, provides information to White House lawyers before a sale for potential conflicts, without revealing to the public who bought the art.
It is meant to shield the identity of buyers to avoid any potential efforts to influence the administration – although word could still get around who is spending tens of thousands of dollars for the president’s son’s work.
Hunter has held shows for his work in Los Angeles and New York.
Under an arrangement organized by the White House, lawyers will review buyers of Hunter’s work for potential conflict, but are not releasing the names to the public.
Hunter Biden has now reinvented himself as an artist
Hunter’s works are pictured on display at the Georges Berges gallery in New York City
Former head of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub flagged the report and the Hunter Biden issue
The George Berges Gallery in New York is displaying Hunter Biden’s work
This fall, after DailyMail.com published photos of the Hunter’s swanky LA art opening, the New York Post reported Hunter had sold five prints for $75,000 each.
Shaub questioned the ethics of the deals at that time.
‘These are legitimate questions,’ he said, when Psaki was asked about it and pushed back.
The report, titled United States Strategy on Countering Corruption, addresses art and antiquities in its second section, on Curbing Illicit Finance.
It is listed under Strategic Objective 2.1: ‘Address Deficiencies in the Anti-Money Laundering Regime.’