The Chronicle has learned that Hunter Biden met more than two dozen times with Ye Jianming, the globe-trotting billionaire and senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) figure who is entrenched in wide-ranging public corruption scandals around the world.
They met so frequently — most often at Ye’s $55 million apartment overlooking Central Park in Manhattan — that household staff openly believed that Biden was having an affair with Ye’s wife.
Ye, as chairman of the now defunct formerly state-owned enterprise CEFC China Energy, gave the Biden family a $5 million unsecured, no-interest, fully forgivable loan, according to Tony Bobulinksi, the former CEO of Sinohawk Holdings, an investment vehicle that was created in partnership with Hunter and Jim Biden.
Ye was arrested in 2018 by Chinese authorities on ‘economic crimes’ and has not been seen since. Authorities are not disclosing whether Ye is currently in detention, and the topic of his disappearance was among the ten most censored topics in China that year. It’s believed that Ye has been released from detention and is now living a low-profile life under the protection of CCP censors. Ye owns apartments in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Dubai, Prague, Moscow, and New York.
Ye struck business deals worth billions of dollars’ in Russia, Eastern Europe and Africa — often seeking business relationships in war-torn places like Chad, and politically volatile places like North Korea. In China, Ye Jianming was known as a fast-rising oil tycoon who ventured into places only the most daring Chinese companies would go.
Ye bestowed money on universities and think tanks lavishly, and often leveraged their direct access to top Washington leaders. Ye even asked one former National Security Advisor, if he bought oil fields in Syria, could the former official persuade the American military not to bomb them?
China’s enormous economic power and influence has found its way into the corridors of power in Washington, where a new generation of business tycoons are quick to utilize their cash to open doors. Former federal officials with access to the White House and intelligence institutions are often eager to help.
The fall of Ye Jianming came quickly. His lieutenant, Patrick Ho, 69, was arrested in November 2017. Ho’s first call was to the cellphone of James Biden. Federal agents arrested Mr. Ho in New York on allegations that he had bribed African officials in Chad and Uganda. Days later, the FBI served Ye a subpoena to be interviewed.
The FBI had been tipped off by African officials who reported Ye’s behavior as violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Raising suspicions of prosecutorial impropriety, Ye has not been charged with wrongdoing in the United States and his laptop was never seized for further investigation into his dealings here, but those legal actions began a series of events that led to his downfall in China.
During Mr. Ho’s trial in New York, federal prosecutors said that he bribed officials in Chad and Uganda and tried to make CEFC a middleman with Iran to avoid oil sanctions. They also said CEFC was involved in the unseemly business of attempting to deal arms in conflict zones.
Ye sent gift boxes containing $2 million in cash to President Idriss Deby, of Chad, in 2014. When Déby opened the packages, he rejected the money and alerted authorities.
Ye has last been seen publicly in February of 2018, when his private jet touched down in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. CEFC was struggling with $15 billion in debt, most of it from the Chinese government. It has since shut down operations in China and its foreign asset holdings are being transferred to another corporation with close ties to the CCP.
In China, Ye has been accused of bribing a provincial party boss to help CEFC secure state financing of infrastructure deals it was pursing at the time.
Many presumed that Ye Jianming was Ye Jianying‘s grandson, and Ye’s business associates regularly helped to inspire the presumption. The later was a hero of China’s Communist revolution and a towering figure in the Chinese military. Government officials are now denying that the two are related.
In 2006 Ye acquired assets that the government had confiscated from an ammunitions manufacturer accused of smuggling. Ye rebranded the business as CEFC China Energy. Ye focused on trading oil futures and securing the rights to overseas oil fields in strife-torn places like Chad, South Sudan and Iraq. Ye continues to manufacture ammunitions.
He seemed to have the blessings of Beijing.
State banks offered CEFC billions of dollars in loans. The company preferred hiring former military officers. (From 2003-05, Ye was deputy secretary of a Chinese military organization controlled by the intelligence unit of the People’s Liberation Army).
CEFC’s revenue grew from $48 million in 2009 to $37 billion in 2017.
Barely 40 years old at the time he was arrested, Ye owned a four-bedroom villa in Hong Kong, a $35 million Gulfstream G550 corporate jet, and luxury apartments abroad.
At the time of his arrest, Ye owned a $9 billion stake in Rosneft, Russia’s state oil giant, putting his company at the center of the complicated relationship between Beijing and Moscow — and regularly struck deals in Eastern Europe and Africa, even serving as a special advisor to the President of the Czech Republic.