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Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden visited a Chinese-owned company to discuss a $3.8 billion deal to buy a prized natural resource in Africa, according to The New York Times. The trip was financed by Tronox, a metals producer in which Shougang Group, the parent company of the company that made the deal, is a major shareholder.
Tronox announced in 2014 that it was exploring a sale of the company to China Investment Corp., which runs the Chinese state-owned pension fund and is a major investor in the U.S. It is owned by a handful of members of the Biden family and by Charles R. Byrnes, a hedge fund manager who contributed to Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2000. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is also a investor in the company.
Hunter Biden travelled to Africa with Tronox executives in mid-January to discuss a proposal to purchase Cobalt 29 Capital, a mining company in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC, which is rich in cobalt. Cobalt is used in batteries for electric cars, as well as magnets and chemical processors. These elements are also found in the fivesies of high-tech phones, calculators and consumer electronics that are a part of everyday life in America and the European Union.
Experts told The Times that the deal — if it went through — could stoke concerns about Chinese interests taking control of Cobalt 29’s trove of cobalt. Cobalt also happens to be one of the most valuable commodities on the market, with prices averaging nearly $72,000 per metric ton last year. Cobalt 30 Capital is majority-owned by a subsidiary of the city of Jiangsu, China, which has said it will honor the ownership transfer.
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