Record bribe offered to Ukraine’s officials for closing Burisma case

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAP) said that they were offered a bribe of $5 million for the closure of the criminal case involving Mykola Zlochevsky, owner of Burisma. According to the representative of the prosecutor's office, this case has nothing to do with Hunter Biden, a former member of the board of directors of Burisma, whose father is running for president of the United States.

The bribe was intended for the closure of a case against Zlochevsky for facilitating the possession of the National Bank's stabilization loan, issued to Real Bank.

Last year, the Ukrainian company Burisma found itself in the spotlight of the world's attention during an investigation that preceded the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Trump, for his part, is in favor of an investigation into Joe Biden and his son.

The head of NABU Artem Sytnik said that three people were detained while paying bribes.

"The first detainee is an employee of the state tax service, he works as the first deputy head of the State Fiscal Service in Kyiv. The second person has ties, and now it is being checked, to the company Burisma, and is a confidant of Zlochevsky, and a third person is also an employee of the State Fiscal Service and also a confidant of Zlochevsky," Sytnik said.

According to Sytnik, the bribe is a record amount in the history of Ukraine. The money, packed in transparent plastic bags, was on display at a press briefing.

Burisma released a statement saying the company was not involved in the case.

"Burisma Group and its management have nothing to do with the information of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAP) and some media outlets about the misconduct... The company operates exclusively within the framework of the current legislation, is one of the largest taxpayers and defends the interests of energy independence of Ukraine," the statement reads.

The founder of Burisma, former Minister of Ecology Nikolai Zlochevsky now lives abroad.

"Let's end this once and for all. Biden Jr. and Biden Sr. are not involved in this particular process," SAP chief Nazar Kholodnitsky said at a briefing on Saturday.

According to Sytnik, the heads of anti-corruption bodies were offered about $5 million, and another million was intended for an official acting as a mediator.

The suspects were in a hurry to pay a bribe because they wanted to close the case against Zochevsky before his birthday on Sunday, "in order to close the criminal proceedings and ensure the return of Mr. Zlochevsky to Ukraine," Sytnik said.

The country's former attorney general told Reuters in June that the audit he appointed found no evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden when he worked for Burisma.

Hunter Biden joined Burisma's board of directors in 2014. Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have accused  Biden Jr. of corruption, but Hunter and Joe Biden have denied all the allegations, calling them unsubstantiated.

  Burisma, Kyiv, Ukraine, Biden