Ukraine’s prosecutor general said he had no evidence of wrongdoing by U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden or his son, despite recent allegations by President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
The controversy stems from diplomatic actions by Biden while his son, Hunter Biden, sat on the board of Burisma Group, one of the country's biggest private gas companies. As vice president, Biden pursued an anti-corruption policy in Ukraine in 2016 that included a call for the resignation of the country's top prosecutor who had previously investigated Burisma, Bloomberg reports.
Yuriy Lutsenko, the current prosecutor general, said that neither Hunter Biden nor Burisma were now the focus of an investigation. He added, however, that he was planning to offer details to U.S. Attorney General William Barr about Burisma board payments so American authorities could check whether Hunter Biden paid U.S. taxes on the income.
"I do not want Ukraine to again be the subject of U.S. presidential elections," Lutsenko said in an interview Tuesday in his office in Kyiv. "Hunter Biden did not violate any Ukrainian laws -- at least as of now, we do not see any wrongdoing. A company can pay however much it wants to its board."
He said if there is a tax problem, it's not in Ukraine.
The prosecutor laid out a more detailed explanation about what was under investigation by his office after a flurry of diverging reports. While the prosecutor's office hasn't reopened a case against Burisma, it is pursuing information about the company's owner in connection with a long-running criminal investigation of another mogul who fled the country five years ago. That matter concerns a transaction unrelated to Hunter Biden, he volunteered.
In recent weeks, Rudy Giuliani, the U.S. president's personal lawyer, has said that Joe Biden had a conflict of interest when he pressed Ukraine’s officials to crack down on corruption. Giuliani said that Biden could have been trying to help his son’s business dealings and that Ukraine needs to investigate.
Those comments have brought fresh scrutiny of Ukraine's prosecutors and whether they are now investigating matters related to Burisma or taking other steps to curry favor with the U.S. administration.
Back in March 2016, Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees if Ukraine failed to address corruption and remove its Prosecutor General, Viktor Shokin, who soon after left office amid widespread calls for his dismissal. Though Shokin had begun a probe into Burisma, it was dormant when he departed, according to a former prosecutor.
"At the end of the day, Shokin submitted his own resignation," Lutsenko said.