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Justice Dept. says FBI informant who lied about Bidens' Ukraine ties had contact with Russians

During arguments about bail, federal prosecutors revealed the informant’s purported ties to individuals associated with Russian intelligence

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February 20, 2024 9:47pm

Updated: February 20, 2024 9:47pm

An ex-FBI informant who is being prosecuted by the Justice Department for fabricating a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme involving Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and a Ukrainian energy company, was in contact with officials associated with Russian intelligence, according to documents filed Tuesday by Special Counsel David C. Weiss.  

Federal prosecutors raised the allegations about Alexander Smirnov’s connections to the Russian government in an effort to convince a U.S. District Court judge to deny the former FBI informant bail, according to a Feb. 20 report published the Associated Press.

Smirnov, who holds dual citizenship with the U.S. and Israel, is currently charged with creating a false and fictitious record under 18 U.S.C. §1519 and falsely reporting to the FBI that executives associated with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid the president and his son $5 million each in 2015 or 2016, a violation under U.S.C. 18 §1001.

The allegations, which were raised to U.S. law enforcement have been a key element that is part of the Republican impeachment investigation taking place in the House of Representatives.

Smirnov, who appeared in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas on Tuesday has been detained at a facility in rural Pahrump, one hour west of the gambling and vacation resort town.

His arrest took place at McCarran International Airport after returning to the United States from abroad. The charges were filed in Los Angeles, where Smirnov lived for 16 years before moving to Las Vegas two years ago.

Before the hearing, Smirnov’s attorneys, Richard Schonfeld and David Chesnoff said they were planning on asking the judge to release their client before trial “so he can effectively fight the power of the government.”

Justice Department prosecutors have previously said that Smirnov said that “officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story” about the president’s son.

They also claimed that Smirnov had deep connections with the Russian government and had numerous contacts with the “son of a former high-ranking [Russian] government official,” describing that individual as “someone with ties to a particular Russian intelligence service.”

In hopes of convincing the judge to deny releasing Smirnov on his own recognizance, they argued that the former federal informant had plans to see one Russian official in the near future, and that he was a flight risk who could easily escape to a foreign jurisdiction.

Smirnov reportedly routine business dealings with Burisma starting in 2017 and made allegations against the Bidens after he “expressed bias” against the president while he was running for office in 2020, prosecutors asserted.

The indictment alleges that in March 2017, Smirnov told an FBI Agent he spoke with the owner of Burisma about its interest in acquiring a U.S. company and making an initial public offering (IPO) on a U.S. stock exchange. In reporting that conversation to the FBI Agent, Smirnov also said that Businessperson 1 [Hunter Biden], Public Official 1’s [Joe Biden] son, was a Burisma board member.

Three years later, in June 2020, the indictment alleges that Smirnov reported two meetings in 2015 and/or 2016.  Federal prosecutors allege that Smirnov made false claim about those meetings, boasting that Burisma executives told him that they hired the president’s son to “protect us, through his dad, from all kinds of problems,” and paid $5 million each to him while Biden was still vice president was still in office, so that “[Businessperson 1] will take care of all those issues through his dad.”

The comment was in reference to a criminal investigation being conducted by the then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General into Burisma.

According to Special Counsel David C. Weiss, the events that Smirnov first reported to the FBI Agent in June 2020 were false. 

“In truth and fact, the defendant had contact with executives from Burisma in 2017, after the end of the administration when Public Official 1 had no ability to influence U.S. policy and after the Ukrainian Prosecutor General had been fired in February 2016. The indictment alleges that the defendant transformed his routine and unextraordinary business contacts with Burisma in 2017 and later into bribery allegations against Public Official 1 after expressing bias against Public Official 1 and his presidential candidacy,” the Justice Department wrote in a Feb. 15 press release.

“As further alleged in the indictment, when he was interviewed by FBI agents in September 2023, Smirnov repeated some of his false claims, changed his story as to other of his claims, and promoted a new false narrative after he said he met with Russian officials,” the Justice Dept. added.

If Smirnov is convicted, he faces a sentence up to 25 years in federal prison. The White House has not yet commented on Smirnov’s charges.

Executive Editor

Gelet Martínez Fragela

Gelet Martínez Fragela is the founder and editor-in-chief of ADN America. She is a Cuban journalist, television producer, and political refugee who also founded ADN Cuba.