by James Bovard
I know Romanian corruption.
When I was exiting the country in 1987 after investigating its collapsing economy, I made sure to bribe every guard who searched my luggage at the Bucharest airport with a pack of Kent cigarettes. But I neglected to give a pack to the soldier on the tarmac as I walked to my Lufthansa flight. He was soon screaming and waving his submachine gun in my direction. Whoops.
After the fall of the Communist regime, the US State Department launched a program to help Romania curtail corruption. Vice President Joe Biden masterminded that effort from 2009 to 2016.
The program was a smashing success: Though Romania remained profoundly corrupt, Biden family members received more than $1 million from Romanian businessman Gabriel Popoviciu. He was convicted for corruption even though Hunter Biden flew to Bucharest to testify on his behalf before the National Anticorruption Directorate.
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer declared Wednesday, “While Vice President Biden was lecturing Romania on anti-corruption policies, in reality he was a walking billboard for his son and family to collect money.” Comer noted that “the money stops flowing from the Romanian national soon after Joe Biden leaves the vice presidency.” Former US Treasury official Phil Stephenson testified in 2017 that the Romanian “fight against corruption itself has been corrupted.”
Romania is only the tip of the iceberg of payoffs that the Biden family — including Joe’s grandkids — pocketed from shady foreigners.
A House Oversight Committee analysis exposed “the Biden family’s pattern of courting business in regions of the world in which the then Vice President had an outsize role and influenced U.S. policy.” The Committee asserts the Bidens and their associates “established a network of over 20 companies” that collected at least $10 million from abroad. “The Bidens took steps to hide, confuse, and conceal payments they received from foreign nationals.”
How did Biden get away with being so squirrely for so long?
US money-laundering regulations are practically designed to shroud crimes by American politicians. Federal agencies require banks to take far more precautions when handling financial transactions involving “politically exposed persons” — which includes almost all foreign politicians, their family members, friends, associates and anyone else likely to take the money and run. But as a 2020 federal regulatory notice declared, federal banking agencies “do not interpret the term ‘politically exposed persons’ to include U.S. public officials.”
Banks and other entities filed 170 suspicious-activity reports tied to foreign payments the Biden family or their associates allegedly received. I predicted here March 24 that Biden could “face far greater peril” from the Treasury Department’s release of those SARs.
But the red flags were ignored because Biden — like every other American politician — was presumptively innocent.
Our politicians are incorruptible? “Tell it to the Marines.”
Biden announced in June 2021, “The United States will lead by example” to “fight the scourge of corruption” and support “courageous citizens around the globe who are demanding honest, transparent governance.” A White House statement promised to “crack down” on “illicit financing” that generates “pernicious foreign influence.”
Was there a secret asterisk exempting anyone named Biden?
Denouncing corruption is the easiest way for rascally politicians to appear honest. US government anti-corruption campaigns have been a perpetual sham or a pretext for shakedowns.
In 2010, President Barack Obama proclaimed at the United Nations that the US government is “leading a global effort to combat corruption.” The following year, House Republicans sought to end US foreign aid for corrupt regimes. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wailed that restricting handouts to nations that fail anti-corruption tests “has the potential to affect a staggering number of needy aid recipients.”
Obama sent Biden to Afghanistan to admonish President Hamid Karzai to stop the corruption that was destabilizing that nation and spurring the Taliban’s rebound. No such luck. “Our biggest single project, sadly and inadvertently,” Obama’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, later admitted, “may have been the development of mass corruption.”
In a 2015 speech to the Ukrainian parliament, Biden denounced the “cancer of corruption.” But the previous year, his son Hunter jumped on the Burisma gravy train, collecting a $1 million salary for a ceremonial position.
Biden declared in 2019: “I did nothing wrong. I carried out the policy of the US government in rooting out corruption in Ukraine.” He failed miserably. The International Monetary Fund recognized that year that its $20 billion in loans to Ukraine were a bust, thanks to the government’s decades of “broken promises” and “systemic corruption.”
Americans would have learned little or nothing about Biden’s foreign money machine if Republicans had not captured the House of Representatives in November. Comer said his investigation is still in the “beginning stages.”
“Corruption is just another form of tyranny,” Biden told the Romanian parliament in 2014. Americans are still learning how our democracy is being subverted by this form of Biden tyranny. The one certainty is that there is far more “pernicious foreign influence” than Washington admits.