Biden Son to Work for Ukraine Gas Company

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 06:27 PM

By Cathy Burke

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A month after Vice President Joe Biden pledged to help Kiev shed its energy dependence on Russia, his younger son, Hunter, has been named to head the legal department at Ukraine's largest private gas producer.

Hunter Biden says he hopes his new job will benefit Ukrainians and the Ukrainian economy, Business Insider reports.

"Burisma's track record of innovations and industry leadership in the field of natural gas means that it can be a strong driver of a strong economy in Ukraine," Hunter Biden said.

"As a new member of the board," Biden said, "I believe that my assistance in consulting the company on matters of transparency, corporate governance and responsibility, international expansion, and other priorities will contribute to the economy and benefit the people of Ukraine," the International Business Times reports.

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White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday batted away questions about either President Barack Obama's or the vice president's involvement in the appointment.

"Hunter Biden and other members of the family are obviously private citizens, and where they work is not an endorsement by the president or vice president," Carney said.

Joe Biden spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff told both Business Insider and the International Business Times that the vice president "does not endorse any particular company and has no involvement with this company."

The head of a watchdog group on government ethics said there's no inherent conflict in Hunter Biden's job.

"It can't be that because your dad is the vice president, you can't do anything," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

"The most important thing is for [Hunter] Biden not to be speaking about these issues with his dad, and for them to try and draw the lines," she said.

Ukraine depends on Russia for most of its natural gas, and has accused Moscow of hiking natural gas prices as punishment for moving closer to the European Union.

Vice President Biden's trip to Kiev in April was aimed at discussions on how the United States could help provide technical expertise for Ukraine to expand domestic production of natural gas.

On its website, Burisma Holdings said Hunter Biden would join its board of directors and lead the company's legal unit by providing "support for the company among international organizations."

Burisma produced the equivalent of 11,600 barrels of oil last year and has planned to increase its production in Ukraine by 35 percent to 40 percent this year, the International Business Times reported.

The younger Biden currently is managing partner and chairman of the board at Rosemont Seneca Partners, a financial and policy advisory firm. He also is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, where he graduated.

Burisma also touted his legal expertise, noting his membership in the bar in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court of Federal Claims. He earned his law degree from Yale.

When the vice president visited Ukraine in late April, Burisma – which owns several Ukrainian oil and gas companies – appointed one of Hunter Biden's business partners, Devon Archer, to its board, the International Business Times reports, citing a report in the Moscow Times.

Archer has strong ties to Secretary of State John Kerry, according to the Rosemont website, serving as "an adviser to John Kerry during his 2004 presidential campaign and co-chaired the National Finance Committee."

Reuters contributed to this report.



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