Blue Star Strategies, an international lobbying firm recommended by Hunter Biden to Ukrainian energy company Burisma, failed to disclose an estimated $480,000 in payments from the firm, testimony from IRS whistleblower Joseph Ziegler shows.
Burisma paid Blue Star Strategies for lobbying beginning in November 2015 and the firm disclosed $60,000 worth of payments in its May 2022 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) registration form, significantly less than the total Blue Star was paid by Burisma, according to Ziegler’s testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee on June 1.
Would love to hear an explanation for why the Justice Department forced Blue Star Strategies — but not Hunter Biden — to register as a foreign agent of Ukraine’s Burisma. https://t.co/n0nJA1UDCM
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) July 24, 2023
“Beginning in November 2015 and continuing through the relevant period of 2016, Blue Star Strategies, registrant, was working on behalf of Burisma Holdings Limited (Burisma), a Ukrainian energy company, to further its commercial interests. Mr. Zlochevsky was a principal of Burisma at that time. Registrant was asked in 2016 to help schedule meetings with U.S. Government officials so counsel for Mr. Zlochevsky could present an explanation of certain adverse proceedings in the U.K. and Ukraine involving Mr. Zlochevsky,” Blue Star’s FARA form reads. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Hunter Biden Worked To Secure US Visa For Ukrainian Oligarch Allegedly Involved In Suspected Bribery Scheme)
In February 2016, Blue Star lobbyists introduced State Department official Amos Hochstein to Zlochevsky’s attorney and the next month, Blue Star introduced Zlochevsky’s attorney to former State Department official, Catherine Novelli, the FARA form shows.
Blue Star allegedly invoked Hunter Biden’s ties to Burisma when they requested to meet with Novelli, according to a Senate report from 2020. Both of the meetings were about Zlochevsky’s legal proceedings in the U.K. and Ukraine, Blue Star said. The Washington Free Beacon previously reported the FARA disclosure.
Burisma paid Blue Star $30,000 in March and May 2016, and a limited portion of each payment was allocated to the firm for arranging the meetings with State Department officials, according to the form. Ziegler testified to the House Ways and Means Committee that Burisma paid Blue Star $540,000 for its lobbying efforts.
Hunter Biden endorsed Blue Star’s abilities when the firm was negotiating its contract with Burisma in November 2015, emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop archive show.
Hunter Biden emailed Burisma executive Vadim Pozharskyi on Nov. 3, 2015, about his plan to call Blue Star to ensure they were on the same page about strategy, the archive shows. Pozharskyi had emailed Biden and his associates the day before about pursuing a more aggressive lobbying strategy on Pozharskyi’s behalf, including meetings with “widely recognized and influential” U.S. officials.
“Let me have one final call with them and verify once more that they understand the scope so we can all feel that the retainer is in line with the work required. I trust Sally and Karen implicitly so I believe we are all aligned but I want to have one last conversation with them to confirm before we proceed. We’ll be back to you ASAP,” Biden told Pozharskyi. Biden was referring to Blue Star executives Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano, both of whom signed the firm’s FARA registration form.
Two days later, Biden encouraged Pozharskyi to sign the lobbying contract and expressed his excitement about Burisma’s lobbying strategy, the email archive shows. (RELATED: Biden Family And Associates Took Estimated $17 Million From Foreign Business Partners, IRS Whistleblower Testifies)
— James Lynch (@jameslynch32) July 20, 2023
“Devon [Archer] and I do feel comfortable with BS and the ability of Sally & Karen to deliver. You should go ahead and sign. Looking forward to getting started on this,” Biden wrote, according to the archive. Hunter Biden and his business associates scheduled another call with Pozharskyi to discuss the contract shortly thereafter.
Craig Engle, a partner at ArentFox Schiff LLP and FARA expert, previously told the Daily Caller that Hunter Biden associate Devon Archer potentially violated FARA disclosure laws by lobbying with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Zlochevsky’s behalf. Archer spoke about his work with a DHS contact in September 2014, the email archive shows.
“Here’s why: If you go outside of normal regulatory channels and try to influence other parts of government to influence the regulatory process then you lose your exemption from registration,” Engle told the Caller. “Second, this lobbying may not be a FARA event because the intended beneficiary is an individual. Not a foreign government or political party. If so, then any lobbying activity should be recorded under the LDA — our domestic lobbying reporting system and not FARA — which is generally used for foreign entities.”
Tramontano previously disclosed a meeting with Hochstein about Burisma in December 2015, according to a May 2022 letter from Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Grassley of Iowa to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley testified to the House Ways and Means Committee that the DOJ’s Office of Enforcement Operations (OEO) sat on a search warrant for Blue Star strategies in September 2020 ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Mykola Zlochevsky is the Ukrainian oligarch at the center of bribery allegations involving Joe and Hunter Biden, according to an FBI FD-1023 form released Thursday by Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley. A confidential human source (CHS) informed the FBI in 2020 about his meetings with Zlochevsky, where the Ukrainian talked about his alleged bribes and his strategy for hiding them, according to the form.
Blue Star Strategies did not immediately respond to the Caller’s request for comment.