US Treasury tells Republican committee request needed for Hunter Biden data

U.S. President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden leave Holy Spirit Catholic Church after attending mass on St. Johns Island, South Carolina, U.S., August 13, 2022. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

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WASHINGTON, Sept 2 (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury on Friday issued an official response to a Republican lawmaker seeking “suspicious activity reports” on President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, saying he would only review official requests from the relevant Congress committees. .

Democrats control Congress and its committees, making such a demand from Republicans virtually impossible, although midterm congressional elections could change control. The request to the Treasury referred to the Bank Secrecy Act, which aims to help prevent money laundering.

Representative James Comer of Kentucky, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, has accused the Treasury to change the rules to protect Hunter Biden’s business dealings with foreign companies.

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Former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress made Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China and Ukraine a line of attack against the elder Biden during the 2020 election campaign. Hunter Biden has denied any wrongdoing .

In July, Comer said Treasury officials told Republican committee staff that the department would not provide access to suspicious activity reports unless Democrats joined the request.

Suspicious activity reports are filed by financial institutions when customers make large cash transactions or transfers over $5,000 that could signal money laundering or other crimes, although many this guy are legit.

In a letter to Comer seen by Reuters, the Treasury said such reports are normally kept confidential, but that it complies with applicable laws and regulations on providing requested information to Congress. Such access would require written requests from the committees, but Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has the final say.

The House Oversight Committee is controlled by Democrats.

“Under current regulations, the Secretary may make BSA information available to ‘Congress, or any committee or

subcommittee thereof, upon written request indicating the particular information desired, the criminal, tax or regulatory purpose for which the information is sought, and the official need for the information,” the Treasury wrote. “These decisions are left to the discretion of the secretary.”

The Treasury said a requesting committee should provide a detailed statement of the purpose of seeking information to ensure it meets the objectives of the Bank Secrecy Act and to protect investigations from security forces. order.

Requiring a committee request would effectively end Comer’s requests for reports involving Hunter Biden, as Democrats now control the House of Representatives and its committees. They declined to help Republicans seeking to dig up information that could be potentially damaging to the president and Democratic candidates.

But the tide could change if Republicans win control of the House in November, allowing House Oversight Committee leaders to make a formal request for suspicious activity reports involving Hunter Biden, a move that could lay the groundwork for an inquiry into his finances.

The Treasury said that when it approves requests for Bank Secrecy Act information from any authorized party, it is only provided in secure reading rooms designed to keep the information confidential.

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Reporting by David Lawder in Washington Editing by Matthew Lewis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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