With Joe Biden looking more and more like he’s going to be the Democratic party nominee for President, more attention has been brought to his family reports.
Ben Schreckinger of Politico reports the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided a health care business linked to Joe Biden’s brother in late January, seizing boxes of documents.
The raid of an Americore Health hospital represented a deepening of the legal morass surrounding James Biden’s recent venture into health care investing at a time when questions about the business dealings of Joe Biden’s relatives, and their alleged connection to the former vice president’s public service, continue to dog his presidential campaign.
In the weeks since the raid, two small medical firms that did business with James Biden have claimed in civil court proceedings to have obtained evidence that he may have fraudulently transferred funds from Americore “outside of the ordinary course of business,” and a former Americore executive has told POLITICO that James Biden had more than half a million dollars transferred to him from the firm as a personal loan that has not yet been repaid.
The purpose of the Jan. 30 raid of an Ellwood City, Pa., hospital remains unclear, and there is no indication it was related to the actions of Biden’s younger brother, who has not been accused of criminal wrongdoing. Its owner, Americore, has faced legal problems and allegations of mismanagement that are unrelated to James Biden.
But recent filings in ongoing legal proceedings, along with new accounts provided to POLITICO by former executives of Americore and others, point to potential pitfalls for the former vice president, painting the fullest picture to date of James Biden’s health care dealings and the ways in which they allegedly related to his older brother. In 2017 and 2018, James Biden was embarking on a foray into health care investing, telling potential partners, including at Americore, that his last name could open doors and that Joe Biden was excited about the public policy implications of their business models, according to court filings and interviews with James’ former business contacts.
Tom Pritchard, a former Americore executive familiar with the business’ finances, told POLITICO that James Biden’s arrival exacerbated Americore’s financial problems. Holding out the promise of a large investment from the Middle East based on his political connections, James Biden introduced Americore’s founder to his older brother and helped land a bridge loan to Americore from a hedge fund, Pritchard said. But then, Pritchard said, James Biden received a six-figure personal loan out of Americore’s coffers while encouraging the firm to take on greater financial liabilities. The cash infusion from the Middle East never arrived, and, Pritchard says, James Biden has not paid back the loan, the terms of which are unknown.
“It was all smoke and mirrors,” Pritchard said.
Meanwhile, Americore found itself increasingly hamstrung by high-interest loans and unable to pay employees and vendors, a situation that disrupted the operations of the rural hospitals it owns.
Now, the business is in bankruptcy court, and federal authorities are circling.
In January, “Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer wrote about James Biden:
Joe Biden’s younger brother, James, has been an integral part of the family political machine from the earliest days when he served as finance chair of Joe’s 1972 Senate campaign, and the two have remained quite close. After Joe joined the US Senate, he would bring his brother James along on congressional delegation trips to places like Ireland, Rome and Africa.
When Joe became vice president, James was a welcomed guest at the White House, securing invitations to such important functions as a state dinner in 2011 and the visit of Pope Francis in 2015. Sometimes, James’ White House visits dovetailed with his overseas business dealings, and his commercial opportunities flourished during his brother’s tenure as vice president.
Consider the case of HillStone International, a subsidiary of the huge construction management firm Hill International. The president of HillStone International was Kevin Justice, who grew up in Delaware and was a longtime Biden family friend. On Nov. 4, 2010, according to White House visitors’ logs, Justice visited the White House and met with Biden adviser Michele Smith in the Office of the Vice President.
Less than three weeks later, HillStone announced that James Biden would be joining the firm as an executive vice president. James appeared to have little or no background in housing construction, but that did not seem to matter to HillStone. His bio on the company’s website noted his “40 years of experience dealing with principals in business, political, legal and financial circles across the nation and internationally…”
James Biden was joining HillStone just as the firm was starting negotiations to win a massive contract in war-torn Iraq. Six months later, the firm announced a contract to build 100,000 homes. It was part of a $35 billion, 500,000-unit project deal won by TRAC Development, a South Korean company. HillStone also received a $22 million US federal government contract to manage a construction project for the State Department.
David Richter, son of the parent company’s founder, was not shy in explaining HillStone’s success in securing government contracts. It really helps, he told investors at a private meeting, to have “the brother of the vice president as a partner,” according to someone who was there.
The Iraq project was massive, perhaps the single most lucrative project for the firm ever. In 2012, Charlie Gasparino of Fox Business reported that HillStone officials expected the project to “generate $1.5 billion in revenues over the next three years.” That amounted to more than three times the revenue the company produced in 2011.
A group of minority partners, including James Biden, stood to split about $735 million. “There’s plenty of money for everyone if this project goes through,” said one company official.
The deal was all set, but HillStone made a crucial error. In 2013, the firm was forced to back out of the contract because of a series of problems, including a lack of experience by Hill and TRAC Development, its South Korean associate firm. But HillStone continued doing significant contract work in the embattled country, including a six-year contract with the US Army Corps of Engineers.
James Biden remained with Hill International, which accumulated contracts from the federal government for dozens of projects, including projects in the United States, Puerto Rico, Mozambique and elsewhere.