A top attorney representing Hunter Biden has claimed that bank suspicious activity reports (SARs) associated with President Joe Biden’s son were “illegally” leaked, and has called for the U.S. Treasury Department’s inspector general to investigate how a former Trump aide got hold of the bank records.
Republican lawmakers have been investigating business transactions between the Biden family and foreign entities, and have recently focused on 150 SARs that are allegedly connected to the Biden family businesses. Under the 1970 Bank Secrecy Act, financial institutions are required to file SARs for a variety of transactions that could indicate possible criminal activity. Republican lawmakers have raised allegations that the Biden family has engaged in foreign influence peddling.
While Republican lawmakers have begun legal processes to obtain the SARs related to the Biden family, a website run by former Trump White House aide Garrett Ziegler already published five of the purported SARs linked to Hunter Biden in October 2022. Ziegler disseminated the bank records through Marco Polo, a platform he founded that he describes as a nonprofit research group focused on exposing corruption.
On Monday, Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell sent a letter to Treasury Department Inspector General Richard Delmar, requesting that he investigate how Ziegler obtained the bank records. In his letter (pdf), first obtained and published by Politico, Lowell alleged that any bank employee who divulged the SARs to Ziegler would have violated 31 CFR § 1020.320, which prohibits banking institutions and their employees from disclosing a SAR or its contents.
While journalists have historically been able to publish documents that they’ve received from whistleblowers without legal consequences, Lowell wrote that such legal protections do not apply to Ziegler in this case.
“The disclosure of illegally obtained information can be protected by the First Amendment,” Lowell wrote. “But, and critical here, this protection is only granted to those who did not themselves participate in illicitly obtaining the information.”
Lowell claimed Ziegler “admitted that he conspired to make unauthorized disclosures of suspicious activity reports.” Lowell’s letter referenced an interview Ziegler did on a podcast with Steve Bannon in which he said “we have an insider at JP Morgan that gave us five suspicious activity reports.” During that interview, Ziegler did not specify who initiated the relationship between his organization and the JP Morgan “insider” or what—if any—actions his organization asked of the “insider” prior to gaining access to the SARs.
In response to Lowell’s allegations, Marco Polo tweeted that their organization has “been approached by numerous whistleblowers across the globe because they do NOT trust ‘traditional’ outlets. They trust us.”
In a phone interview, Ziegler told NTD that neither he nor his organization initiated the communication with the JP Morgan employee.
“He approached our group with the SAR. He gave it to us because he recognized that a cover up was in play with the Hunter Biden federal investigation,” Ziegler said.
Ziegler said the JP Morgan insider had been following a Telegram channel operated by Marco Polo prior to reaching out and sharing the bank documents.
NTD News also reached out to Lowell, but he did not respond before this article was published.
What’s In the SARs
The first SAR document (pdf) published on the Marco Polo website details several transactions between Hunter Biden (referred to in the documents by his first name, Robert) and international businesses he has associated with, including the Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma, several Rosemont Seneca entities and Bohai Harvest—which the SAR describes as Hunter’s investment company in China. According to the report, Bohai Harvest sent 16 transactions between Bank of China and Bank of China Limited – New York between 07/11/2017 and 03/11/2019, totaling some $119,095.31.
A second SAR describes payments from a sole-proprietor firm that Hunter Biden owned called Owasco PC. According to the bank documents, the firm paid several women who, according to the report, “each appear to be in the adult entertainment industry.” The bank record says the women Owasco PC paid are “listed as subjects in prior SAR filings for transactions consistent with possible human trafficking; or for their association to the adult entertainment industry and potential association with prostitution.” The third SAR lists Owasco as a party in a series of payments made to one of the same women listed in the second SAR.
Following the release of the SARs on the Marco Polo website, news publications like Newsweek and the Daily Mail went on to describe alleged payments Hunter Biden made to prostitutes. In his letter to the Treasury Department inspector general, Lowell wrote, “Ziegler has used Mr. Biden’s SARs and other financial records to craft a false narrative that Mr. Biden is associated with a human trafficking ring.”