An investment firm founded by Hunter Biden facilitated a $3.8 billion purchase of an American-owned cobalt mine by a Chinese conglomerate, placing a key resource used in the manufacture of electric car batteries under foreign control, according to the New York Times.
The mine, formerly owned by Freeport-McMoRan and located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was purchased in 2016 after Chinese mining outfit China Molybdenum announced a partnership with the Biden-founded Bohai Harvest RST (BHR) - with the Chinese contributing $2.65 billion and BHR contributing $1.14 billion to buy out a minority stakeholder, Lundin Mining of Canada. The money for Bohai's share came "entirely from Chinese state-backed companies," according to the report.
China Molybdenum lined up about $700 million of that total as loans from Chinese state-backed banks, including China Construction Bank. BHR raised the remaining amount from obscure entities with names like Design Time Limited, an offshore company controlled by China Construction’s investment bank, according to the Hong Kong filings.
Before the deal was done, BHR also signed an agreement that allowed China Molybdenum to buy BHR’s share of the mine, which the company did two years later, the filings show. That purchase gave China Molybdenum 80 percent ownership of the mine. (Congo’s state mining enterprise kept a stake for itself.) -NYT
In 2019, when Hunter controlled 10% of the firm through Washington-based Skaneateles, LLC, BHR sold its stake. As the Times notes, Chinese corporate records show Skaneateles is still part owner of BHR, however Biden attorney Chris Clark said that Hunter "no longer holds any interest, directly or indirectly, in either BHR or Skaneateles."
According to a former BHR board member, Hunter and the other American founders were not involved in the mine deal, and the firm only earned a 'nominal' fee on the deal. The proceeds allegedly went towards the firm's operating expenses, and was not distributed to its owners.
That said, the Times does raise a good point: "It is unclear how the firm was chosen by China Molybdenum."
A dozen executives from companies involved in the deal, including Freeport-McMoRan and Lundin, said in interviews that they were not given a reason for BHR’s participation. Most of the executives also said they were unaware during the deal of Mr. Biden’s connection to the firm.
Paul Conibear, Lundin’s chief executive at the time, said it was made clear that China Molybdenum was leading the transaction even though the buyer of Lundin’s stake was BHR.
“I never really understood who they were,” Mr. Conibear said of BHR. -NYT
So - Hunter Biden's investment firm shows up to funnel money from Chinese state-owned firms into the cobalt deal, and nobody involved knows why.