President Joe Biden’s brother James has scrapped a clean energy project in the UK after a White House scrutiny for potential conflicts of interest.
James Biden created an investment vehicle in May, with a British business lawyer and two Argentinian businessmen. But he abandoned the plan weeks later following a White House assessment under tough new rules introduced by Joe Biden’s administration. The business is now dormant.
James Biden and his wife, Sara Jones Biden, started 2BT, a UK limited liability company, with Peter Teare, partner of Reed Smith. 2BT created another vehicle, Shelbourne Partners, which aimed to “explore potential investment opportunities, particularly in the clean energy sector,” according to Teare.
Weeks after Shelbourne’s launch and following a White House review of James Biden’s plans, Teare said the group had abandoned the project.
The White House office’s review of James Biden’s planned activities in the UK is part of an ethics regime introduced by the new US administration and designed to draw a line between President Biden’s approach towards the financial interests of his family and that of his predecessor, Donald Trump.
The new procedures mean that President Biden’s family members should first discuss potential business commitments or deal with their own attorneys, and then, if necessary, brief the White House attorney. Once the White House gives its opinion on whether to proceed, family members make the final decision. The rules are designed to ensure that members of the president’s family have no conflict of interest with U.S. government matters.
A White House official said: “The president has adopted rules and ethical standards for his administration that surpass those of any other administration in history, and include standards for those close to him.
James Biden could not be reached for comment.
The White House declined to comment on the exact timing of the review of James Biden’s planned activities in the UK, or its findings. Ethics reviews by the White House board are supposed to take some time. The Financial Times contacted the White House on Friday to comment on James Biden’s business plans in the UK.
James Biden has invested in a series of business transactions in the United States, including a controversial attempt to buy the Paradigm hedge fund in 2006 with his nephew, Hunter. 2BT was his first registration as a director in the UK, according to Companies House records.
In January, Joe Biden told CNN news channel that his family “would not be involved in any business, any business that is in conflict or appears to be in conflict, where there is an appropriate distance from the presidency and the government. “.
Shelbourne is jointly owned by 2BT and International Capital Investment, another new LLP launched by Argentine lawyer Ricardo Nicolás Mallo Huergo and José Luis Manzano, former Argentine congressman and associate of James Biden. Huergo and Manzano are respectively General Counsel and President of Buenos Aires private equity firm Integra Capital.
According to Huergo, the two Argentines and James Biden are “long-time” acquaintances. Manzano served in the Argentine cabinet under President Carlos Menem and founded the Grupo America media group, the country’s second largest media company. According to Spanish media, James Biden attended Manzano’s wedding in 2015.
The two Argentines are already investing in traditional energy projects, including oil and gas through Integra. Huergo told the FT that the new company plans to fund projects focused on the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.
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