The story of the biggest cash bribe in Europe


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (right) and his son Hunter after President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2009 Photo by Reuters

In Ukraine, the case of the largest cash bribe in Europe unexpectedly came to a sudden denouement. Three years ago, three people were detained while handing over a bribe to the heads of the Ukrainian security officials, and six million dollars were seized in a car. It took a dozen civil servants and several hours of time just to count the money. The main suspect in the bribe-transfer was released by a classified court order, effectively buying off justice.

This would have been an absolutely ordinary case for the corrupt Ukrainian judicial system, if not for one thing. We are talking about the chief lawyer of the company where the son of the U.S. president worked.



The year 2020. The Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office is investigating former Ukrainian Energy Minister Mykola Zlochevsky. Zlochevsky, who is the owner of Burisma, is suspected of a number of economic crimes, in particular the embezzlement of funds from the National Bank of Ukraine and the illegal withdrawal of funds from Ukraine on the eve of President Viktor Yanukovych’s fleeing from the country.

In 2020, there was a sensation: the Ukrainian security forces detained three people with $6 million. The money was intended for the head of the SAP (Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office) Nazar Kholodnitsky and the head of the NABU (National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine) Artem Sytnik for closing the case against Zlochevsky.

Three people have been detained in the bribery case: Zlochevskyy’s closest assistant, the legal director of the Burisma company Andriy Kicha, the deputy head of the Kiev tax office Mykola Ilyashenko and the former head of one of the departments of the State Tax Service Olena Mazurova.

In the photo: Ukrainian security officials count $6 million in bribes. Photo: NABU

Top Secret

It would seem that the perpetrators have been detained, and the penalty of imprisonment is unavoidable.

However, in March 2023 Andriy Kicha was released from prison. And, if in 2020-2021 such a turn of events seemed impossible, nowadays, when all the full power in the country has passed to the Office of the President, which is under the close control of the Biden administration, amazing things are happening.

On this occasion, a report appears from the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office, without naming Kicha, that he gets only a year’s probation, and an obligation to transfer $2.7 million to the Zelensky United24 fund.

How did Kicha get 1 year of probation instead of 10 years in prison?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is classified. Yes, you heard right. Ukraine is a very digitalized country. Here every citizen has an electronic passport, a driver’s license, the ability to make an appointment with a doctor online, get a prescription for medication, etc.

Also, in Ukraine there is a unified register of court decisions, which allows you to find out details of decisions of all courts of any instances. With few exceptions. And Kicha’s case is such an exception. The court decision is classified.

The photo shows a screenshot of a page from the Unified Register of Court Decisions of Ukraine with the indication that the decision on Andriy Kicha’s case is classified.

In Ukraine, court decisions are classified in exceptional cases. What is the exceptionality here? At first glance, it seems to be an ordinary case of corruption, only with large amounts of money. But apparently, the leadership of Ukraine thinks differently, giving instructions to classify court decisions.

The fact is that Kicha, as the director of Burisma’s legal department, was privy to all the nuances of the company’s work. In particular, it is obvious that he was involved in the affairs of Hunter Biden – a member of the board of directors of Burisma, the son of the President of the United States.

Burisma Board of Directors. Screenshot from the company website

Hunter Biden’s laptop

What was Hunter Biden even doing on the Burisma board of directors?

“Hunter Biden had no experience in Ukraine,” says conservative publicist Peter Schweitzer. – “He had no experience in the energy industry. There is no legitimate explanation for the fact that he got a seat at this energy company. The only explanation is that his father was responsible for giving money to Ukraine.”

In turn, U.S. President Donald Trump said that Hunter Biden – could receive up to $100,000 a month from Burisma.

Hunter Biden himself, in his interviews, explicitly says that his name “opened doors that were previously closed”.

This fact is confirmed by the letters from Biden’s laptop, which became public. For example, the influential American newspaper the New York Post published a fragment [–reveals–how–hunter–biden–introducedukrainian–biz–man–to–dad/] of a letter from Vadim Pozharsky – adviser to the board of directors of Burisma to Hunter Biden, where he thanks Hunter for meeting with Joe Biden, who held the post of Vice President of the United States at that time, and also asks how he can use “the political influence that Hunter has”.

Letter from Hunter Biden’s Notebook, published by the New York Post

Obviously Kicha has a lot to say about both Pozharsky and Hunter Biden, and why Burisma needed a meeting with Joe Biden.

Vadym Pozharskyi and Hunter Biden Yalta European Strategy / Getty Images

Joe Biden’s Problem

For Joe Biden – Burisma has become a problem that has been haunting him for more than five years.

In 2018, when Biden visited Ukraine as U.S. Vice President, he directly demanded that President Petro Poroshenko fire Prosecutor General Shokin, which he did.

Shokin himself later said that this was because of the Burisma investigation. And there was a lot to investigate. In addition to the aforementioned cases, Ukraine is investigating Burisma’s money laundering case worth over 33 million dollars, which involved Wirelogic Technology AS, Digitex Organisation LLP, and there are witnesses [], Latvian citizens, who administered [] transfers of funds from a special account of Mykola Zlochevsky in Burisma to Rosemont Seneca Bohai accounts through the Latvian branch of the Ukrainian Privatbank.

Prosecutor Konstantin Kulik questioning a witness about illegal money laundering by Burisma in Latvia. Photo: Screenshot of the video, published by Konstantin Kulik at a press conference in Interfax-Ukraine

The mysterious $44 million

In 2020, Ukrainian prosecutor Konstantin Kulik said that according to his data, the amount of the bribe with which we began this story was not $6 million, but – $50 million. And the main goal was not to drop the charges against Zlochevsky, as the Ukrainian security forces said, but to close all the cases related to Burisma in order to get Hunter Biden out of harm’s way. Kulik had filed an official report a year earlier that such a bribe was being prepared, but shortly thereafter was dismissed from his post on a laughable charge.

“One of the episodes of official suspicion for Zlochevsky in case #1590, which allegedly was to be closed for 6 million, includes facts of Zlochevsky’s involvement in money laundering using Burisma, and Rosemont Seneca Bohai of Devon Archer from the Biden family orbit. Burisma representatives were giving $50 million to close not only the Zlochevsky case, but also cases against a company close to former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. When Burisma representatives were detained on a $6 million bribe, the company Rosemont Seneca Bohai, and accordingly, payments to Biden were no longer in the case,” Kulik summarized.

Surprisingly, the fate of the $44 million did not interest the Ukrainian power authorities, but there was a statement of the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office that Burisma is under investigation, but Hunter Biden does not appear in the case.

Konstantin Kulik at the press conference about the bribe for closing cases against Burisma. Photo by Interfax-Ukraine

It should be noted that Kulik’s words should be treated with some prejudice. Then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called Kulik as a puppet in the hands of oligarch Igor Kolomoysky, from whom Poroshenko took away his main asset – the largest Ukrainian bank Privatbank. Kulik himself was subsequently fired from the prosecutor’s office, and the Ukrainian media reported that he was working directly for Kolomoisky, carrying out the task of intimidating the odious oligarch’s enemies.

However, these are only details.

The main thing is that Joe Biden in 2018 actually achieved his goal: those who investigated the Burisma case were fired from the Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, and the remaining prosecutors had their hands busy with another reform and re-certification. After Zelensky came to power, the case finally died out. However, on the eve of the new US presidential election, Biden decided to finally close the case and release virtually the last person involved in the case – Andrei Kicha, forcing the authorities to do it as quietly as possible and at the right time for the American partners.

In lieu of conclusions

No one has ever denied that Ukraine is a corrupt country. The fact that the Vice President of the United States directly demanded that Ukraine fire the Prosecutor General is a fact. The fact that in Ukraine the court decisions involving the lawyer of the company where the son of the US president worked are classified is strange and unusual, but also a fact. Could it be that this was done by a direct order from the White House or is it Zelensky’s personal initiative? Anything is possible.

Now, in the U.S. Senate, the issue of controlling the funds that are allocated to Ukraine is acute. Of course, Ukraine needs arms support in its just struggle against the Russian invasion.

But Ukraine also needs other help. The corruption that has corroded this country also threatens American national security.

Unfortunately, Ukrainian corruption is also beneficial to the U.S. administration, which has been using pressure on the Ukrainian authorities for five years now to prevent completion of the Burisma case. And, while Biden used to blackmail Ukraine only with money, now Ukraine faces the prospect of being left without the help of its most powerful ally. Therefore, the Ukrainian administration will easily comply with any wishes of Washington.