By Chuck Ross
Newly surfaced court documents and emails shed fresh light on the mysterious relationship between Russian billionaire Elena Baturina and a consortium of business partners that included Hunter Biden.
John Galanis, who has a history of white collar fraud convictions, alleged in a court filing in January that his son, Jason, worked with Biden and their partner Devon Archer to help Baturina launder money through the U.S. financial system. Galanis, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for a fraud scheme that involved Hunter Biden associates, was previously released early from a 27-year sentence for another fraud, and has faced other similar convictions.
And emails released Monday from a former Biden associate, Bevan Cooney, show Archer and his business partners strategizing how to open up banking accounts in the United States for Baturina, whose late husband was once the mayor of Moscow. Cooney provided access to his email account to reporter Matthew Tyrmand, who has published some of the emails online and shared others with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Establish US banking relationship was the goal she gave me,” Archer wrote of Baturina in a Jan. 5, 2014, email sent to Cooney.
The email is not part of the trove of documents purported to be from Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Galanis, Archer and Cooney were convicted on Aug. 28, 2018, on fraud and conspiracy charges related to a $60 million bond offering for the Wakpamni tribe in South Dakota.
Archer’s conviction was overturned in December 2018, though a federal appeals court reversed that decision last month. He’s set to be sentenced in January.
Galanis, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison on March 8, 2019, said in the affidavit that Jason Galanis, his son, had confided details of his various business dealings with Biden and Archer.
Baturina’s links to Biden and Archer have been a topic of interest since a Senate report was released last month on Biden’s foreign business dealings. The report said Biden’s relationships with Russian, Ukrainian and Chinese business people created possible counterintelligence and extortion risks.
According to the Senate report, Baturina wired $3.5 million to Rosemont Seneca Thornton, a company controlled by Biden and Archer, on Feb. 14, 2014.
Baturina, who until recently was Russia’s only female billionaire, transferred another $241,797 to a bank account for Rosemont Seneca Thornton from May-December 2015, according to the report.
“These transactions were identified because of Baturina’s reported criminal activity,” the Senate report states.
Baturina and her late husband, Yuriy Luzhkov, were investigated for bribery in Russia in 2011 for more than $400 million worth of Moscow city contracts that were allegedly directed to companies controlled by Baturina. Baturina has not been charged with wrongdoing in Russia.
A 2010 State Department cable leaked to WikiLeaks said that Luzhkov sat atop a “pyramid” of corruption involving the Kremlin, Russian intelligence services and the the Solntsevo crime syndicate.
Neither Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, nor Baturina have explained the purpose of the wire transfers.
Emails from a month before the $3.5 million transfer show Archer and Jason Galanis scrambling to open bank accounts for Baturina so she could invest in Burnham Securities, an investment firm controlled by Galanis, Archer and Biden.
Jason Galanis and Archer also discussed setting up a brokerage account for Baturina with J.P. Morgan, according to emails from Cooney’s account.
After weeks of delays in processing the request through the bank’s anti-money laundering process, Galanis celebrated opening up an account at J.P. Morgan, according to the emails.
“We weaseled a JPM account for the USSR women’s shot put champion,” Galanis wrote Archer on Jan. 21, 2014, according to one of the emails Tyrmand shared with the DCNF.
Galanis was responding to an email from Jon Burnham, who was chairman of Burnham Securities.
Burnham wrote that he had heard from the anti-money laundering department at J.P. Morgan.
“They have approved Yelena to have an account with us,” he wrote, referring to Baturina. “They said that she is on their watch list because there are so many threats of lawsuits – but the fact that there have been no convictions etc., they have approved her.”
Galanis responded to Archer and Cooney with a cryptic message.
“Leave the back door open and we’ll sneak right in,” he wrote, according to an email Tyrmand released.
Other emails provided by Cooney show Archer and Jason Galanis discussing helping Baturina open accounts at the Banc of California.
“It looks as if we’ll be able to accelerate the Banc of California account opening while [Baturina] is with us in New York early this week as well,” Archer wrote to an associate of Baturina’s on Feb. 16, 2014.
John Galanis wrote in an affidavit that that his son, Biden and Archer “conspired” to help Baturina open an account at the same bank.
“Numerous attempts to avoid sanctions with assistance of Archer, Biden, Jason Sugarman and Jason Galanis,” John Galanis alleged in the affidavit, which he wrote from Terminal Island, a low-security federal prison in California.
Galanis does not explain in the affidavit why he is accusing his son working with Biden and Archer to help Baturina.
Jason Sugarman’s brother is Steven Sugarman, the former CEO of Banc of California. Steven Sugarman resigned from the bank in January 2017 after revelations about his links to Jason Galanis, who pleaded guilty in a separate fraud investigation in July 2016.
The Banc of California has not been accused of any wrongdoing related to Biden’s associates. A spokeswoman for the bank told the Daily Caller News Foundation that it has no records of doing business with Biden, Archer or Baturina.
Archer, a former campaign adviser to John Kerry in 2004, touted his financial links to Baturina in hopes of attracting other investigators to his myriad of investment companies.
He told the board of Burnham Investors Trust in August 2014 that Baturina had invested more than $200 million in his companies.
“He also discussed his client relationship with Yelena Baturina, who he said had invested over $200 million dollars in his various investment funds,” read the minutes from an Aug. 21, 2014, board meeting submitted into evidence in a separate fraud investigation.
John Galanis has a string of fraud convictions dating back to the early 1970s. He was sentenced to 27 years in prison in 1987 in a fraud case, but was released after serving less than half of that.
John Galanis and Cooney said they are releasing information about Biden because they believe they took the fall for the Wakpamni bond scheme.
Tyrmand told the DCNF that Cooney said he believes he was the “fall guy” in the scam. He said Cooney gave him written authorization to access his email account in order to lay out all of his interactions with Archer and Biden.
John Galanis asserted in his affidavit that prosecutors in the Wakpamni investigation failed to adequately investigate Biden and Archer’s role in the fraud.
Prosecutors did not accuse Biden of any wrongdoing in the Wakpamni investigation, but evidence produced during the case showed that the co-conspirators touted their links to him because of his political connections.
Cooney told one associate in a secretly recorded phone call that “you don’t get more politically connected” than Biden and Archer, according to an exhibit introduced at trial.
“Hunter Biden works for [Archer],” he said. “So we’ve got the top level politicos with us. All of my guys, is as top tier as it gets.”
John Galanis’s attorney, David Touger, declined to comment to the DCNF. Lawyers for Biden, Archer, Jason Galanis, Jason Sugarman, Cooney and Buterina did not respond to requests for comment.
Galanis also alleged in his affidavit that Biden used his political influence to attract investments from Chinese companies.
“Evidence is provided that after Archer and Hunter Biden gained control of Burnham, indirect political influence was used to obtain a $5 million dollar investment in Burnham by a Chinese firm,” he wrote.
Galanis said that Biden secured a $5 million cash infusion after he reached out to Henry Zhao, the chairman of Harvest Fund Management, The Washington Free Beacon reported last month.
“To induce Chinese, Biden sends email to Henry Zhao, Chairman/founder of Harvest,” Galanis said. “[Biden] says investment would be important to his family. Chinese agree to $5 million investment in Burnham Asset Management alone.”
The Senate report identified other suspicious wire transfers to Biden, including one from a Chinese businessman linked to a front group for the People’s Liberation Army.
The report said that hundreds of thousands of dollars in wire transfers from Ye Jianming, the founder of CEFC China Energy Co., had been flagged as suspicious.
Emails purported to be from Hunter Biden’s computer showed that he was negotiating with Ye for a $10 million payment from Ye to make “introductions.”
Ye has not been seen since 2018.
An associate of his named Gongweng Den was indicted on fraud charges in 2018. Gongweng and Biden were partners in a shell company called Hudson West III, according to the Senate report.
The report says that an affiliate of CEFC China Energy wired $5 million to Hudson West III in August 2017. Of that, $4.8 million was wired over the course of the next year to Biden’s law firm, Owasco.
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