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Revisit :: Inside the shady private equity firm run by Kerry and Biden’s kids

John Kerry (left) and Joe Biden.

March 15, 2018

By Peter Schweizer

“My frustration,” writes Peter Schweizer in his new book, “Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends,” “is not that the solid reporting on Trump has been too tough, but that the reporting on the Obama administration has been way too soft or in some cases nonexistent.” The author of the 2016 sensation “Clinton Cash” says Trump and his children didn’t invent the blurring of government and business, and details a number of ethical violations on both sides of the political aisle. One example: the little-noticed private equity firm run by the sons of Democrats Joe Biden and John Kerry, as detailed in this exclusive first excerpt.

Joe Biden and John Kerry have been pillars of the Washington establishment for more than 30 years. Biden is one of the most popular politicians in our nation’s capital.

His demeanor, sense of humor, and even his friendly gaffes have allowed him to form close relationships with both Democrats and Republicans. His public image is built around his “Lunch Bucket Joe” persona. As he reminds the American people on regular occasions, he has little wealth to show for his career, despite having reached the vice presidency.

One of his closest political allies in Washington is former senator and former Secretary of State John Kerry. “Lunch Bucket Joe” he ain’t; Kerry is more patrician than earthy. But the two men became close while serving for several decades together in the US Senate. The two “often talked on matters of foreign policy,” says Jules Witcover in his Biden biography.

So their sons going into business together in June 2009 was not exactly a bolt out of the blue.

But with whom their sons cut lucrative deals while the elder two were steering the ship of state is more of a surprise.

What Hunter Biden, the son of America’s vice president, and Christopher Heinz, the stepson of the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (later to be secretary of state), were creating was an international private equity firm. It was anchored by the Heinz family alternative investment fund, Rosemont Capital. The new firm would be populated by political loyalists and positioned to strike profitable deals overseas with foreign governments and officials with whom the US government was negotiating.

Hunter Biden, Vice President Joe Biden’s youngest son, had gone through a series of jobs since graduating from Yale Law School in 1996, including the hedge-fund business.

By the summer of 2009, the 39-year-old Hunter joined forces with the son of another powerful figure in American politics, Chris Heinz. Senator John Heinz of Pennsylvania had tragically died in a 1991 airplane crash when Chris was 18. Chris, his brothers, and his mother inherited a large chunk of the family’s vast ketchup fortune, including a network of investment funds and a Pennsylvania estate, among other properties. In May 1995, his mother, Teresa, married Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. That same year, Chris graduated from Yale, and then went on to get his MBA from Harvard Business School.

Hunter Biden (left) with father Joe Biden following the inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama, Jan. 20, 2009.REUTERS

Joining them in the Rosemont venture was Devon Archer, a longtime Heinz and Kerry friend.

The three friends established a series of related LLCs. The trunk of the tree was Rosemont Capital, the alternative investment fund of the Heinz Family Office. Rosemont Farm is the name of the Heinz family’s 90-acre estate outside Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania.

The small fund grew quickly. According to an email revealed as part of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, Rosemont described themselves as “a $2.4 billion private equity firm co-owned by Hunter Biden and Chris Heinz,” with Devon Archer as “Managing Partner.”

The partners attached several branches to the Rosemont Capital trunk, including Rosemont Seneca Partners, LLC, Rosemont Seneca Technology Partners, and Rosemont Realty.

Of the various deals in which these Rosemont entities were involved, one of the largest and most troubling concerns was Rosemont Seneca Partners.

Rather than set up shop in New York City, the financial capital of the world, Rosemont Seneca leased space in Washington, DC. They occupied an all-brick building on Wisconsin Avenue, the main thoroughfare of exclusive Georgetown. Their offices would be less than a mile from John and Teresa Kerry’s 23-room Georgetown mansion, and just two miles from both Joe Biden’s office in the White House and his residence at the Naval Observatory.

In short, the Chinese government was literally funding a business that it co-owned along with the sons of two of America’s most powerful decision makers.

Over the next seven years, as both Joe Biden and John Kerry negotiated sensitive and high-stakes deals with foreign governments, Rosemont entities secured a series of exclusive deals often with those same foreign governments.

Some of the deals they secured may remain hidden. These Rosemont entities are, after all, within a private equity firm and as such are not required to report or disclose their financial dealings publicly.

Some of their transactions are nevertheless traceable by investigating world capital markets. A troubling pattern emerges from this research, showing how profitable deals were struck with foreign governments on the heels of crucial diplomatic missions carried out by their powerful fathers. Often those foreign entities gained favorable policy actions from the United States government just as the sons were securing favorable financial deals from those same entities.

Nowhere is that more true than in their commercial dealings with Chinese government-backed enterprises.

Rosemont Seneca joined forces in doing business in China with another politically connected consultancy called the Thornton Group. The Massachusetts-based firm is headed by James Bulger, the nephew of the notorious mob hitman James “Whitey” Bulger. Whitey was the leader of the Winter Hill Gang, part of the South Boston mafia. Under indictment for 19 murders, he disappeared. He was later arrested, tried, and convicted.

James Bulger’s father, Whitey’s younger brother, Billy Bulger, serves on the board of directors of the Thornton Group. He was the longtime leader of the Massachusetts state Senate and, with their long overlap by state and by party, a political ally of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

Less than a year after opening Rosemont Seneca’s doors, Hunter Biden and Devon Archer were in China, having secured access at the highest levels. Thornton Group’s account of the meeting on their Chinese-language website was telling: Chinese executives “extended their warm welcome” to the “Thornton Group, with its US partner Rosemont Seneca chairman Hunter Biden (second son of the now Vice President Joe Biden).”

The purpose of the meetings was to “explore the possibility of commercial cooperation and opportunity.” Curiously, details about the meeting do not appear on their English-language website.

Also, according to the Thornton Group, the three Americans met with the largest and most powerful government fund leaders in China — even though Rosemont was both new and small.

The timing of this meeting was also curious. It occurred just hours before Hunter Biden’s father, the vice president, met with Chinese President Hu in Washington as part of the Nuclear Security Summit.

Chris Heinz (left) with John Kerry at a campaign fundraiser, April 16, 2004.Dennis Van Tine

There was a second known meeting with many of the same Chinese financial titans in Taiwan in May 2011. For a small firm like Rosemont Seneca with no track record, it was an impressive level of access to China’s largest financial players. And it was just two weeks after Joe Biden had opened up the US-China strategic dialogue with Chinese officials in Washington.

On one of the first days of December 2013, Hunter Biden was jetting across the Pacific Ocean aboard Air Force Two with his father and daughter Finnegan. The vice president was heading to Asia on an extended official trip. Tensions in the region were on the rise.

The American delegation was visiting Japan, China, and South Korea. But it was the visit to China that had the most potential to generate conflict and controversy. The Obama administration had instituted the “Asia Pivot” in its international strategy, shifting attention away from Europe and toward Asia, where China was flexing its muscles.

For Hunter Biden, the trip coincided with a major deal that Rosemont Seneca was striking with the state-owned Bank of China. From his perspective, the timing couldn’t have been better.

Vice President Biden, Hunter Biden and Finnegan arrived to a red carpet and a delegation of Chinese officials. Greeted by Chinese children carrying flowers, the delegation was then whisked to a meeting with Vice President Li Yuanchao and talks with President Xi Jinping.

Hunter and Finnegan Biden joined the vice president for tea with US Ambassador Gary Locke at the Liu Xian Guan Teahouse in the Dongcheng District in Beijing. Where Hunter Biden spent the rest of his time on the trip remains largely a mystery. There are actually more reports of his daughter Finnegan’s activities than his.

What was not reported was the deal that Hunter was securing. Rosemont Seneca Partners had been negotiating an exclusive deal with Chinese officials, which they signed approximately 10 days after Hunter visited China with his father. The most powerful financial institution in China, the government’s Bank of China, was setting up a joint venture with Rosemont Seneca.

The Bank of China is an enormously powerful financial institution. But the Bank of China is very different from the Bank of America. The Bank of China is government-owned, which means that its role as a bank blurs into its role as a tool of the government. The Bank of China provides capital for “China’s economic statecraft,” as scholar James Reilly puts it. Bank loans and deals often occur within the context of a government goal.

Rosemont Seneca and the Bank of China created a $1 billion investment fund called Bohai Harvest RST (BHR), a name that reflected who was involved. Bohai (or Bo Hai), the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea, was a reference to the Chinese stake in the company. The “RS” referred to Rosemont Seneca. The “T” was Thornton.

The fund enjoyed an unusual and special status in China. BHR touted its “unique Sino-US shareholding structure” and “the global resources and network” that allowed it to secure investment “opportunities.” Funds were backed by the Chinese government.

In short, the Chinese government was literally funding a business that it co-owned along with the sons of two of America’s most powerful decision makers.

The partnership between American princelings and the Chinese government was just a beginning. The actual investment deals that this partnership made were even more problematic. Many of them would have serious national security implications for the United States.

In 2015, BHR joined forces with the automotive subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned military aviation contractor Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) to buy American “dual-use” parts manufacturer Henniges.

AVIC is a major military contractor in China. It operates “under the direct control of the State Council” and produces a wide array of fighter and bomber aircraft, transports, and drones — primarily designed to compete with the United States.

The company also has a long history of stealing Western technology and applying it to military systems. The year before BHR joined with AVIC, the Wall Street Journal reported that the aviation company had stolen technologies related to the US F-35 stealth fighter and incorporated them in their own stealth fighter, the J-31. AVIC has also been accused of stealing US drone systems and using them to produce their own.

In September 2015, when AVIC bought 51 percent of American precision-parts manufacturer Henniges, the other 49 percent was purchased by the Biden-and-Kerry-linked BHR.

Henniges is recognized as a world leader in anti-vibration technologies in the automotive industry and for its precise, state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities. Anti-vibration technologies are considered “dual-use” because they can have a military application, according to both the State Department and Department of Commerce.

The technology is also on the restricted Commerce Control List used by the federal government to limit the exports of certain technologies. For that reason, the Henniges deal would require the approval of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews sensitive business transactions that may have a national security implication.

According to BHR internal documents, the Henniges deal included “arduous and often-times challenging negotiations.” The CFIUS review in 2015 included representatives from numerous government agencies including John Kerry’s State Department.

The deal was approved in 2015.

Excerpted with permission from “Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends,” by Peter Schweizer, published by Harper Collins. The book goes on sale March 20.

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The Scheme behind the Obamacare Fraud

Lies smooth the transition to a fundamental transformation of our health-care system.

November 23, 2013 4:00 AM
By Andrew C. McCarthy

Fraud can be so brazen it takes people’s breath away. But for a prosecutor tasked with proving a swindle — or what federal law describes as a “scheme to defraud” — the crucial thing is not so much the fraud. It is the scheme.

To be sure, it is the fraud — the individual false statements, sneaky omissions, and deceptive practices — that grabs our attention. As I’ve recounted in this space, President Obama repeatedly and emphatically vowed, “If you like your health-insurance plan, you can keep your health-insurance plan, period.” The incontrovertible record — disclosures by the Obama administration in the Federal Register, representations by the Obama Justice Department in federal court — proves that Obama’s promises were systematically deceitful. The president’s audacity is bracing, and not just because he lies so casually while looking us in the eye. Obama also insults our intelligence. It is one thing to tuck evidence of falsehood into a few paragraphs on page 34,552 of a dusty governmental journal no one may ever look at. It is quite something else to announce it in a legal brief publicly filed in a case of intense interest to millions of Americans aggrieved by Obamacare’s religious-liberty violations. To be so bold is to say, in effect, “The public is too ignorant and disengaged to catch me, and the press is too deep in my pocket to raise alarms.”

Still, to show that politicians lie is like pointing out that it gets dark at night. The lie, the fraud, does not tell us why they lied in this instance. The fraud does not tell us what the stakes are. To know that, we must understand the scheme — the design.

The point of showing that Obama is carrying out a massive scheme to defraud — one that certainly would be prosecuted if committed in the private sector — is not to agitate for a prosecution that is never going to happen. It is to demonstrate that there is logic to the lies. There is an objective that the fraud aims to achieve. The scheme is the framework within which the myriad deceptions are peddled. Once you understand the scheme, once you can put the lies in a rational context, you understand why fraud was the president’s only option — and why “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” barely scratches the surface of Obamacare’s deceit.

In 2003, when he was an ambitious Illinois state senator from a hyper-statist district, Obama declared:

I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health-care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its gross national product on health care, cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. . . . Everybody in, nobody out. A single-payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. That’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately.

That is the Obamacare scheme.

It is a Fabian plan to move an unwilling nation, rooted in free enterprise, into Washington-controlled, fully socialized medicine. As its tentacles spread over time, the scheme (a) pushes all Americans into government markets (a metastasizing blend of Medicare, Medicaid, and “exchanges” run by state and federal agencies); (b) dictates the content of the “private” insurance product; (c) sets the price; (d) micromanages the patient access, business practices, and fees of doctors; and (e) rations medical care. Concurrently, the scheme purposely sows a financing crisis into the system, designed to explode after Leviathan has so enveloped health care, and so decimated the private medical sector, that a British- or Canadian-style “free” system — formerly unthinkable for the United States — becomes the inexorable solution.

Once you grasp that this is the scheme, the imperative to lull the public with lies makes sense. Like all swindles, Obamacare cannot work if its targeted victims figure out the endgame before it is a fait accompli.

The president is a community organizer in the Saul Alinsky tradition. He is trained to adopt the language and co-opt the sensibilities of the masses in order to become politically viable; then, once raw power is acquired, the Alinskyite uses every component of it to thwart opposition in patient but remorseless pursuit of the given “social justice” goal. Consequently, in pursuit of health-care statism, Obama moderated his rhetoric over the years, but not his ideological goals. He stressed pragmatism: a gradual campaign that kept the ultimate prize in sight. “I don’t think we’re going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately,” he told his hard-Left base at a 2007 SEIU health-care forum. “There’s going to be potentially some transition process. I can envision a decade out or 15 years or 20 years out.”

There’s that word: transition. It’s the route “change” takes to reach its final destination: “fundamental transformation.” If you’re paying attention, you’ll hear the word transition a lot in Obama’s health-care speeches. You’ll also find it in that Justice Department brief the administration no doubt wishes Eric Holder’s minions had edited more furtively:

The [Affordable Care Act’s] grandfathering provision’s incremental transition does not undermine the government’s interests in a significant way. Even under the grandfathering provision, it is projected that more group health plans will transition to the requirements under the regulations as time goes on. [Officials of the Department of Health and Human Services] have estimated that a majority of group health plans will have lost their grandfather status by the end of 2013 [emphasis added].

Understand what this studiously unthreatening, gradualist gobbledygook means. A “group health plan” is employer-provided insurance; the phrase thus blithely refers to the “transition” of 156 million Americans who get health insurance for themselves and their families through work. It does not mention the so-called individual market, consumers who buy health insurance on their own. That’s because the administration assumes the “transition” of those 25 million Americans from their preferred plans to Obamacare will already have progressed well toward completion. And indeed it has, as we have seen in the millions of cancellation notices reported in the last six weeks.

The Justice Department’s assertion, based on the administration’s internal analyses, conveys that by the third year of Obamacare’s implementation — “the end of 2013,” which has since been extended by a year due to Obama’s “waiver” of the employer mandate — more than half of those 156 million group policies will have lost their “grandfather status.” “Grandfathering” is the mirage Obama projected for his illusory “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” guarantee.

You couldn’t keep your plan because Obamacare mandates made it impossible for private insurers to offer it. The mandates essentially require that everything and everyone be covered — even though you do not need coverage for everything (e.g., 23-year-old men do not need birth-control pills, neo-natal care, and periodic colonoscopies), and even though mandatory coverage for preexisting conditions is not insurance but welfare. The mandates are simply cost-shifting from the young and healthy to the older and sicklier — just as you would find in any universal, single-payer system. But Obamacare is camouflaged to make it look like the insurers are deciding not to offer your plan anymore, rather than that the government is forcing their hand.

Of course, that’s not the half of the deceit — not in a program the president publicly insisted was not a tax even as his Justice Department insisted to the Supreme Court that it was one. Obama also said, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period.” As Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey noted this week, that promise too is fraudulent. If your doctor is not part of the network offered on the plans in your exchange, you will lose your doctor. To keep costs down, exchanges will limit their provider networks. Top doctors and hospitals are already being cut out. Moreover, the onerous regulations, reporting requirements, and constant threat of fee-slashing are beginning to drive doctors out of the profession.

Then there is the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Stanley Kurtz described the IPAB in all its frightening detail in a 2011 National Review cover story: “An unelected and unaccountable bureaucratic entity with nearly limitless power over federal Medicare spending, [it] will have the power to effectively ration health care through price controls.”

Put aside that the IPAB, which Obamacare insulates from judicial review, is an unconstitutional delegation of Congress’s legislative power — a model that, if adopted in spheres of activity beyond health care, would effectively end popular self-governance. As the rising costs driven by our health-care system’s suffocating regulations compound our astronomical debt, pressure is mounting for the IPAB to oversee cost-cutting — i.e., rationing — not only in Medicare but across the whole Obamacare framework. In fact, as Stanley recounts, the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission appointed by Obama made just such a recommendation — giving the president political cover to push hard for IPAB expansion. “Once IPAB’s rules govern America’s health-care system as a whole,” Stanley concludes, “we will be most of the way down the road to a British-style single-payer system.”

So how does Obama get all the way down that road? That is where the scheme’s manufactured crisis comes in. Obamacare commands that all Americans purchase health insurance, whether they want it or not. This is essential: If young healthy people refused to buy overpriced, largely superfluous coverage to underwrite the cost of insuring older and sick people, premiums would further skyrocket. As Powerline’s John Hinderaker explains, insurance companies would either have to fold or shift the costs to whatever employer plans still remained. This, in turn, would spur employers to cancel plans, dumping ever more people into the government exchanges.

The individual mandate is what is supposed to prevent that death spiral. There’s just one thing: The individual mandate is legally unenforceable.

Yes, there is a penalty for failing to purchase insurance — starting at $95 or 1 percent of income the first year and rising sharply thereafter. But the designers of Obamacare went out of their way to prohibit the IRS from using its usual array of civil and criminal processes (fines, liens, etc.) to confiscate it. The government may only collect the penalty by deducting it from tax refunds — meaning people who prudently structure their tax withholding so that no refund accumulates can avoid paying with impunity.

Obviously, it would be far less expensive for young people — who are already disproportionately strained by Obama’s no-growth, high-unemployment economy — to opt for a penalty they are not actually required to pay than to purchase prohibitively costly coverage. After all, under Obamacare, they can wait until they are sick to buy “insurance.” That is, Obamacare’s architects consciously created the incentive to destroy the program’s own insurance exchanges.

By the time that problem erupts, private insurance will already be gutted. Coverage requirements will already be dictated by government, as will pricing, with a subsidy structure that builds in progressive wealth redistribution. And doctors will already be beholden to government for patient access, treatment options, record-keeping requirements, and payment. That is, much of the single-payer infrastructure will be in place.

The manufactured financial crisis will be portrayed as a demonstration that exchanges based on the assumption that individuals will take responsibility for their own “private” insurance arrangements do not work. It will be time to solve the crisis by a seamless transition — there’s that word again — to a fully socialized health-care system, now overtly controlled by the government. “Free” health care for everyone — with all the substandard treatment, absurd wait times, and rationing that entails — will be supported by a few “tweaks” to our progressive tax system . . . no more unwieldy, unpredictable premium payments.

That’s the scheme. Or maybe you still believe that if you like your private medical system, you can keep your private medical system, period.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.

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