GOP says Biden family financial records are clear evidence. The White House calls it a “political stunt.”

washington • Amid mounting pressure to show progress in their investigations, Republicans in the House of Representatives on Wednesday shared what they say about new discoveries about President Joe Biden’s family and finances.

Key evidence of this, according to Republicans, is recent financial filings on the president’s son Hunter Biden, his brother James Biden and a growing number of employees who have received millions of dollars in payments from foreign companies in China and Romania. They suggest, without evidence, that the payments were part of a far-reaching plan to enrich themselves through the family name.

To get here, Republicans in Congress relied on more than 150 reports of suspicious activity as a roadmap to follow what they call the Bidens’ complicated financial money trail.

The confidential reports, or SARs for short, are often routine, with major financial transactions automatically reported to the government. Filing a SAR report alone is not evidence of wrongdoing.

But Rep. James Comer, the chair of the House Oversight Committee that led the probe, said Wednesday that other types of financial records obtained through subpoenas and lawsuits from Congress have now become the focus of their probe.

The White House dismissed the entire investigation as “another political ploy.”

“Congressman Comer has a history of playing fast and loose with the facts, making baseless innuendos while refusing to legitimately conduct his so-called ‘investigations,'” White House spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement.

Here’s a deeper look at suspicious activity reports and how Republicans are using them as a roadmap for investigations into the Biden family:

What is a suspicious activity report?

Financial institutions are required to submit a report of suspicious activity to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) no later than 30 calendar days after discovering a suspicious transaction that could be related to money laundering or terrorist financing.

Originally intended as a “sentencing form”, reports of suspicious activity were introduced by the Bank Secrecy Act 1970. According to FinCEN, the form became the standard procedure for reporting suspicious activity in the financial system in 1996.

The rules surrounding reporting were later changed by the US Patriot Act. Today, banks and credit unions routinely file suspicious activity reports.

What triggers SARs?

Industries that deal in large amounts of money must file suspicious activity reports with the government when they discover a transaction with possible links to money laundering, counterfeiting, fraud or illegal financing – this includes banks, casinos, lending companies and custodians.

Signs of insider trading and individual transactions of $5,000 or more often prompt an institution to file a report. However, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation states that companies “are encouraged, in appropriate situations relating to these matters, to nevertheless report based on the potential harm such crimes may entail.”

Large transactions involving foreign payers — like the types of transactions Hunter and James Biden are known to have been involved in as part of their work — are the types of transactions that federal authorities frequently report.

SARs can also be submitted by individuals or organizations outside of the financial sector, including law enforcement agencies, public safety officials, city or state officials, business owners, and even the general public.

Law enforcement agencies use the reports to detect and prosecute illegal activity, and to identify and stop fraudulent and criminal behavior before it becomes a bigger problem.

Electronic filing of suspicious transaction reports through FinCEN’s e-filing system on banking secrecy has increased in recent years. According to data compiled by FinCEN, almost 42,000 reports were filed by the credit and financial services industry in 2021, a huge increase from the more than 1,500 reports in 2015.

History of suspicious transaction reports against political actors

Filing suspicious activity reports against elected officials is not uncommon. During the Trump administration, Deutsche Bank’s anti-money laundering division recommended filing suspicious activity reports on transactions by Trump companies, including the Trump Foundation, and companies owned by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Multiple reports of suspicious activity have been filed against Michael Cohen, a former attorney for former President Donald Trump, including one that recorded a $500,000 deposit from a company linked to a Russian oligarch who sold money to Trump’s inauguration fund had donated.

Most SARs are never published. The records linked to Trump and Cohen were exposed through leaks to the media and as part of federal investigations.

Confidentiality in the reporting process

Reports of suspicious activity are kept confidential to make them useful to law enforcement. The person suspected of triggering a suspicious transaction report is regularly not informed about the pending report.

Any discussion or disclosure of SARs to outside groups such as news outlets would be considered unauthorized disclosure and would be a federal offense.

In the case of Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, an IRS operative was indicted by federal prosecutors in 2019 for disclosing bank records that had been determined to be suspicious activity.

Confidentiality rules have come up again as Comer conducts his investigation into alleged suspicious activity reports from Biden family members. The Kentucky legislature and some committee members and staffers have recently been able to see some of the thousands of pages of the Biden family’s financial records through subpoenas issued to the Treasury Department and various financial institutions since January.

A handful of MPs immediately began speaking out on social media and cable news about what they had seen in the reports, claiming there was evidence of wrongdoing.

House Democrats have accused Comer and other Republicans on the committee of possible violations of the Bank Secrecy Act.

What are Republicans investigating?

After winning a majority in the House of Representatives last year, Republicans vowed they would use their subpoena powers to investigate foreign companies that did business with the family during Biden’s vice presidential tenure and during the Trump administration, including one special focus on his son Hunter.

This all comes as Hunter Biden’s tax and foreign business work is already the subject of federal investigations and a Delaware grand jury will reportedly rule on the indictment in the next few months. And although Hunter Biden has never held a presidential campaign or White House position, his board membership of a Ukrainian energy company and efforts to secure deals in China have long raised questions about whether he acted in his father’s public service. including alleged references in his emails to the “big guy”.

Joe Biden said he never spoke to his son about his overseas business. And there is no evidence that the federal investigations involve the President in any way.

A Hunter Biden attorney on Wednesday slammed the Republicans’ years-long investigation as “a prosecution of conspiracies.”

“Today’s so-called ‘revelations’ are repackaged, repackaged misrepresentations of perfectly lawful meetings and dealings by private individuals,” said Abbe Lowell, an attorney for the president’s son.

What evidence have they gathered?

So far, Comer and the Republicans have not presented any evidence publicly to support their claims of wrongdoing by the Biden family. However, Comer said her investigation into the Biden family was expanding.

“This isn’t just about the president’s son. “This is about the entire Biden family, including the President of the United States,” Comer said in an appearance on Fox News Sunday. “So we think there’s a whole bunch of accounts that the IRS and DOJ don’t know about because we don’t think they’ve looked into it in depth.” And we have.”


Lindsay Whitehurst, Associated Press contributor, contributed to this report.

Justin Scaccy

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