Republicans investigating President Joe Biden’s family business dealings have focused on a $40,000 check written to Joe Biden before he was president.
“BREAKING → @GOPoversight uncovered a $40,000 payment of laundered Chinese money directly to Joe Biden himself,” Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., wrote November 1 on X, formerly Twitter. “Joe Biden is not only involved in his family’s corruption scheme, he is a key financial beneficiary.”
This statement comes from a check The House Republicans went public on November 1, along with a bank statement memorandum – the fourth memo released during the investigation – which said they were “tracing payments from Chinese companies back to Joe Biden.”
These bank statements show that the money in question appears to have come from a Chinese company that Biden’s son Hunter had engaged with. But the best information we have suggests that Scalise crossed the line by failing to provide evidence of a crime.
“Money laundering” is a legal term that assumes the money was obtained through illegal means; no illegal activity has been demonstrated. The $40,000 came to Joe Biden in the form of a check written by his sister-in-law for what is considered a “loan payment.”
Neither Scalise nor a spokesperson for the House Republican Oversight Committee responded to PolitiFact’s request for comment. But we looked into Scalise’s claims to find out what is and isn’t known about the $40,000 payment — the latest piece of evidence that Republicans highlighted in a report. range of accusations on the Biden family finances.
In September, after years of investigation into the Bidens’ foreign trade dealings, Republicans opened an impeachment investigation in Joe Biden. The evidence provided by Republicans so far, including during the impeachment inquiry, has not proven that Joe Biden committed any wrongdoing. Republicans in the House on November 8 issued subpoenas for Hunter Biden and Joe Biden’s brother, James, as part of the investigation.
Here’s what we know.
The Republicans’ November 1 bank memo describes a web of transactions involving a Chinese company, Hunter Biden’s businesses, and Joe Biden’s brother and sister-in-law. The Republican thesis is that Biden’s sister-in-law sent Joe Biden money from sources linked to China.
- On August 8, 2017, Northern International Capital wired $5 million to an account of Hudson West III LLC, a company Hunter Biden created with a Chinese associate who intended for helping CEFC, a Chinese energy company, establish liquefied natural gas contracts in the United States. This $5 million was then the only money in the Hudson West III account. The memo describes Northern International Capital as “a Chinese company affiliated with CEFC.”
- Also on August 8, 2017, Hunter Biden transferred $400,000 from Hudson West III to Owasco PC, Hunter Biden’s professional company. Owasco PC already had $100,000 from a bank transfer from CEFC Infrastructure, another China-linked company, bringing the account balance to $500,832.
- On August 14, 2017, Owasco PC transferred $150,000 to an account at Lion Hall Group, a consultant company linked to Joe Biden’s brother, James. The balance in this account was $151,965.
- Sara Biden, the wife of James Biden, withdrew $50,000 from the Lion Hall Group bank account on August 28, 2017. On the same day, Sara or James Biden deposited $50,000 into their personal account. Sara Biden also withdrew $1,000 from her personal account, bringing the balance to $49,047 as of August 28, 2017.
- On September 3, 2017, Sara Biden signed a personal check for $40,000 to Joe Biden. The memo section of the check stated that it was for “loan repayment.”
Bottom line: In 2017, Biden’s sister-in-law sent Joe Biden money from sources linked to China, according to the Republican memo.
Available bank records contain no evidence of wrongdoing by the president, nor evidence that Joe Biden knew where the $40,000 came from.
“The president, when he was a private citizen, lent his brother money, and his brother quickly repaid it,” said White House spokesman Ian Sams. Sams said bank statements in the Republicans’ possession show the check was payment for a loan and cited A press release that Democrats on the Oversight Committee released on October 20.
In it, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a ranking committee member, described the transactions as “personal dealings by members of the president’s family that have no relation to a legitimate congressional investigation.”
PolitiFact reviewed records of two bank transfers, one for $40,000 and one for $200,000, from an account linked to Joe Biden to James Biden. The records did not constitute explicit documentation of outgoing loans.
Checks released by the Oversight Committee show that James Biden then appeared to repay his brother in full, without interest, within two months of each alleged loan.
Republicans too published a Check for $200,000 that Sara and James Biden wrote to Joe Biden on March 1, 2018; it also said “loan repayment” on the memo line. But since it was sent the same day Americore Health LLCa company that runs rural hospitals in the United States, provided a $200,000 loan to James Biden, Republicans said. claims this proves that Joe Biden benefited from “shady influence peddling of his name” by his family. FactCheck.org covered here.
“It is certainly plausible” that the $40,000 check was a loan payment, said Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., chairman of the House Oversight Committee. But even if that were the case, he said, “it still shows how much Joe benefited from his family profiting off his name — with money from China, no less.” .
“For money laundering to occur, there has to be an underlying crime, an initial crime that creates illegal profits,” said Ross Delston, an anti-money laundering lawyer. ‘money. “People often use the term ‘money laundering.’ »
A connection to China does not mean the money was obtained illegally, Delston said. And unless it was obtained illegally, it would not be considered money laundering.
The bank memo that Republicans released on November 1 contained no new information that would prove that the money Hunter Biden received from Northern International Capital or CEFC Infrastructure was obtained illegally.
So far, none of the memos have provided evidence that the money paid to Biden family members and associates was obtained illegally.