Current and former officials in Ukraine told Time magazine that the government felt hamstrung because of Burisma’s ties to Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.
The younger Biden – who’s embroiled in a paternity scandal – sat on the Burisma board from April 2014 until earlier this year, for which he was reportedly paid as much as $50,000 a month.
“It’s too sensitive a topic,” one Ukrainian official told Time.
Trump’s efforts to convince Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch a probe of the Bidens – including during a July 25 phone call – lie at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.
Democrats allege that Trump used nearly $400 million in military aid as leverage. Trump denies any quid pro quo.
The Ukrainian official, who Time said is familiar with Zelensky’s thinking, said that “I think we need to investigate Burisma.”
“Not for Trump. And not against Biden. We need to do that because this is just a case of corruption,” the official said.
But the impeachment inquiry has “changed the context,” the official said, adding, “And this is bad.”
Bohdan Yaramenko, a senior lawmaker in Zelensky’s ruling party, told Time that officials were concerned how “major players in the United States” would respond to any Ukrainian statements regarding graft in the country’s notoriously crooked gas industry.
On Wednesday, the same day Time published its report, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka said his probe of Bursima had widened to include the suspected “theft of government funds on an especially large scale” by company founder Mykola Zlochevsky, Reuters reported.
Ryaboshapka said Zlochevsky, a multimillionaire former minister of ecology and natural resources, was previously the subject of 13 investigations that he began reviewing after taking office in late August.
Those probes involve suspected tax violations, money-laundering and the licenses Burisma was awarded when Zlochevsky was a government minister, Reuters said.
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