The US Treasury Department has reportedly disclosed Suspicious Activities Reports (SARs) involving Hunter Biden to Republican Representative James Comer. SARs are filed by financial institutions when they detect transactions that appear to be illegal or fraudulent. However, the content of the SARs remains confidential under US law. Representative Comer has expressed concerns over the involvement of Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, in various business dealings with foreign entities. The Treasury Department has not commented on the matter.
The Treasury Department will allow members of the House Oversight and Government Accountability Committee to review Suspicious Activities Reports (SARs) detailing Hunter Biden’s bank records, committee chairman James Comer of Kentucky said Tuesday.
The disclosure of the SARs has reignited the debate over the business activities of Hunter Biden and whether they represent a conflict of interest with his father’s position as President. Republican lawmakers have previously raised questions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine and China.
The Oversight Committee initially requested in January that Treasury officials provide Biden’s SARs, which are taken by banks in accordance with federal law when deposits or withdrawals exceed $10,000 or may indicate criminal activity. Assistant Treasury Secretary for Legislative Affairs Jonathan Davidson responded that the Oversight Committee did not identify a purpose for the request. Comer believes that Treasury holds more than 150 reports on Biden.
The disclosure of SARs is not unusual, as financial institutions are required by law to report any suspicious activities to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). However, the disclosure of the reports to a member of Congress is rare and has raised some eyebrows.
“After two months of dragging their feet, the Treasury Department is finally providing us with access to the suspicious activity reports for the Biden family and their associates’ business transactions. It should never have taken us threatening to hold a hearing and conduct a transcribed interview with an official under the penalty of perjury for Treasury to finally accommodate part of our request,” Comer said in a statement.
“We are going to continue to use bank documents and suspicious activity reports following the money trail to determine the extent of the Biden family’s business schemes, if Joe Biden is compromised by these deals, and if there is a national security threat. If Treasury tries to stonewall our investigation again, we will continue to use tools at our disposal to compel compliance,” Comer added.
Some experts have argued that the disclosure of the SARs could represent a breach of confidentiality and privacy, as the reports contain sensitive financial information that should only be shared with law enforcement agencies. Others, however, have defended the disclosure, arguing that it is part of the normal oversight process and that Congress has a legitimate interest in investigating potential conflicts of interest involving public officials.
The Lion Hall Group, a company controlled by Hunter’s uncle James Biden, paid Hunter Biden a $100,000 monthly retainer. Those payments were reportedly flagged, as was a $100,000 payment from Chinese billionaire Ye Jianming to Owasco, Hunter Biden’s law firm.
Large payments to “politically-exposed people” like Hunter Biden can be part of “malign foreign influence campaigns,” Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray testified in August 2022.
“It starts to shade into a blend of what we call malign foreign influence with potential public corruption. And it’s something we take seriously,” he told Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.
The Biden administration has not commented on the matter, but it is expected to face questions from the media and from lawmakers in the coming days. Some Democrats have accused Republican lawmakers of using the issue to score political points and distract from more pressing issues, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recovery.
It remains to be seen whether the disclosure of the SARs will lead to any further action or investigations. However, it is clear that the issue of Hunter Biden’s business activities will continue to be a source of controversy and debate in the coming months.