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Ukraine officials say they were offered $6 million to drop probe into gas company, but no Bidens link

Volodymyr Zelensky 2019 (The Presidential Administration of Ukraine/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Ukrainian officials say they were offered $6 million in bribes to end a criminal investigation into the head of a gas company where the son of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden served on the board.

Ukraine’s anti-corruption prosecutor, Nazar Kholodnitskiy, told a press conference in Kyiv on June 13 that neither of the Bidens was connected to the alleged bribe attempt.

The Burisma natural gas company was at the center of a scandal leading to U.S. President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

Biden is Trump’s Democratic challenger in the November presidential election.

“The total confiscated was $6 million. This a record amount for a bribe in Ukraine, as far as I remember,” said Artem Sytnyk, the head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, during the news conference.

Kholodnitskiy and Sytnyk said the bribe was intended to encourage their offices to drop a probe into Mykola Zlochevskiy, the head of Burisma and a former minister of ecology.

Zlochevskiy is suspected of using his ministerial position for personal gain.

In a statement, Burisma said the company had nothing to do with the bribe attempt.

During a July 25 phone call, Trump urged his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, according to a transcript of the conversation.

Critics said the Trump administration withheld crucial military aid worth $391 million to Kyiv as leverage.

In January, Democrats in the House of Representatives charged Trump with abuse of office and obstruction of Congress, allegations he rejected as a political “witch-hunt.”

The president was acquitted following a trial in the Senate in a vote mainly along party lines.