Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings is at the center of a political firestorm involving President Donald Trump and his 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Burisma is connected to the former vice president through his son, Hunter Biden, who served on the company's board from 2014 to 2019. He reportedly made as much as $50,000 a month through the deal.
The company was founded in 2002 by Mykola Zlochevsky, a businessman who served as Ukraine's ecology minister under ousted (and corrupt) Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, according to news reports. Burisma is owned by the Cyprus-based offshore company Brociti Investments Limited, which belongs to Zlochevsky.
At first, the media covered Hunter Biden's relationship with Burisma with skepticism.
"Revelations that Hunter Biden [serves] on the board of a company controlled by a Yanukovych ally raise serious conflict of interest questions for Western countries' Ukraine policy," BuzzFeed News wrote in 2014.
Ukraine seeks energy independence
Ukraine and Russia have been in conflict, including over the natural gas that Ukraine needs from Russia. The larger country has withheld natural gas and payments for using Ukraine's gas pipeline system from the smaller country, Forbes reported.
"We want to be truly independent and have a lot of cases, so that no one twists our arm on gas, energy security, coal. We have discussed it all," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said of his meeting with Trump during the United Nations General Assembly earlier in the week.
But much of Burisma's operations are in Crimea, a region annexed by Russia in March 2014. Hunter Biden joined Burisma's board shortly after.
Why the corruption investigation?
Ukrainian prosecutors never made any pronouncements of criminal wrongdoing at Burisma or by Hunter Biden. They began looking into the company shortly after Hunter Biden joined and kept at it for two years.
Zlochevsky, Burisma's founder, fled Ukraine after former president Yanukovych was ousted. Zlochevsky was being investigated by Ukraine's prosecutor general for wrongdoing including tax evasion and money laundering, Business Insider reported.
Burisma is in the spotlight because of a whistleblower complaint involving a phone call between Trump and Ukraine's president. The complaint said Trump pressured Zelensky numerous times in a July 25 phone call to investigate Hunter Biden. Joe Biden faced scrutiny for months over his past role pressuring Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor while he was leading an investigation into that company.