The recently announced House Republican investigation into President Joe Biden and his family’s business dealings will focus, in part, on at least 150 banking suspicious activity reports (SARs) allegedly related to the Biden family and their business dealings. The new investigative effort comes after the Treasury Department, under Biden’s control, has refused to produce the records after previous Republican requests.
In a Thursday report, Republican lawmakers described several evidence and whistleblower testimony suggesting President Biden had knowledge of his family’s foreign business activities. The report also said “Committee Republicans are aware of the existence of additional evidence implicating the Biden family business ventures in suspicious activities but have been obstructed in our attempts to obtain that information.”
“The Department of Treasury is in possession of at least 150 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) related to Biden family members’ financial transactions,” the Republican report states. “Despite numerous formal requests by Committee Republicans to review those SARs, and despite
decades of precedent of Treasury making SARs available pursuant to congressional requests, the Biden Administration changed longstanding policy and now refuses to produce Biden family SARs or to make them available for Committee Republican investigators’ in camera review.”
These SARs are records produced by banking and financial institutions file with the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) whenever there is a suspected case of money laundering or fraud.
A FinCEN guide to SARs describes several suspicious behaviors for which SARs may be used, including:
- a lack of evidence of legitimate business activity, or any business operations at all, undertaken by many of the parties to the transaction(s); unusual financial nexuses and transactions occurring among certain business types (e.g., food importer dealing with an auto parts exporter);
- transactions that are not commensurate with the stated business type and/or that are unusual and unexpected in comparison with the volumes of similar businesses operating in the same locale;
- unusually large numbers and/or volumes of wire transfers and/or repetitive wire transfer patterns;
- unusually complex series of transactions indicative of layering activity involving multiple accounts, banks, parties, jurisdictions;
- suspected shell entities;
- bulk cash and monetary instrument transactions;
- unusual mixed deposits of money orders, third party checks, payroll checks, etc., into a business account;
- transactions being conducted in bursts of activities within a short period of time, especially in previously dormant accounts;
- transactions and/or volumes of aggregate activity inconsistent with the expected purpose of the account and expected levels and types of account activity conveyed to the financial institution by the accountholder at the time of the account opening;
- beneficiaries maintaining accounts at foreign banks that have been subjects of previous SAR filings;
- parties and businesses that do not meet the standards of routinely initiated due diligence and anti-money laundering oversight programs (e.g., unregistered/unlicensed businesses);
- transactions seemingly designed to, or attempting to avoid reporting and recordkeeping requirements; and
- correspondent accounts being utilized as “pass-through” points by foreign jurisdictions with subsequent outgoing funds to another foreign jurisdiction.
According to the Republicans, there are at least 150 SARs associated with Joe Biden’s brother, James Biden, and the president’s son, Hunter Biden.
The Republican report states that Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee began seeking these 150 SARs in May of this year, reaching out to both the Treasury Department and various financial institutions the Biden family members may have used.
The report said many of the banks would only provide the requested SARs under a subpoena, which is a power the Republicans have not had as the minority party in the House in recent years.
The report said the Treasury Department — which is an executive branch department under President Biden’s authority — has also withheld the SARs thus far.
While the Biden Administration’s Treasury Department publicly claims it is cooperating with Committee Republicans’ investigation, this is not true. According to Treasury, SARS are made available to Members of Congress “regardless of party.” Treasury has publicly stated it has made SARS “available for every request [they’ve] received,” but this is not true as not a single request by Republicans working on this investigation has been accommodated.
Just as concerning, the Biden Administration changed longstanding Treasury policy of providing SARS to congressional committees. Under the Biden Administration’s policy, no committee is able to obtain SARS for review. Instead if the Department of Treasury chooses to cooperate congressional staff must review these complex financial documents in camera at Treasury.
Republicans have not received an adequate explanation for this change in policy and question whether Treasury changed the rules to hamper congressional scrutiny of certain individuals, entities, or organizations, including the President and his family.
The GOP report further warned that “if the President or his agent used the federal government to obfuscate his role in his family’s ventures, he is abusing the power of the Office of the President.”
That Republicans raised the prospect that the President Biden may be “abusing” his power is significant. Democrats accused then-President Donald Trump of an “abuse of power” during their 2019 impeachment effort.
The SARs could be relevant to the Republican congressional investigation as well as any other law enforcement investigations into the Biden family.
In December of 2020, Hunter Biden released a statement acknowledging he is under investigation over his taxes. In October, unnamed sources familiar with the investigation told the Washington Post that investigators have enough evidence to charge the younger Biden.
The Republican report states that James Biden also told investors in a healthcare business known as Americore Health, that the company would be able to get millions in investments from the Middle East, Russia and China. The Republicans stated the Americore Health business collapsed “partly because of the fraudulent claims James Biden made.” According to a witness for the Republican report, James Biden would tell Americore Health investors over the phone that Joe Biden was in the room with him and was aware of the business deal.
Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported James Biden agreed to pay $350,000 to settle a lawsuit over his alleged role in Americore’s bankruptcy.
The Biden White House has criticized the renewed Republican investigation efforts.
“Instead of working with President Biden to address issues important to the American people, like lower costs, congressional Republicans’ top priority is to go after President Biden with politically-motivated attacks chock full of long-debunked conspiracy theories,” Ian Sams, a spokesperson for the White House Counsel’s Office told Newsweek on Thursday.