James, the brother of President Joe Biden, has left a clean energy project in the UK following a review by the White House over potential conflicts of interest.
James Biden set up an investment vehicle in May, along with a corporate lawyer in the UK and two Argentine businessmen. But he abandoned the plan a few weeks later after an assessment of the White House under strict new rules introduced by Joe Biden’s administration. The company is now asleep.
James Biden and his wife, Sara Jones Biden, launched 2BT, a British limited liability company, with Reed Smith partner Peter Teare. 2BT has established another vehicle, Shelbourne Partners, which aims to “explore prospective investment opportunities, particularly in the clean energy sector,” according to Teare.
Weeks after the Shelbourne launch, and following a White House review of James Biden’s plans, Teare said the group had abandoned the project.
James Biden’s review of the White House Council’s planned activities in the UK is part of an ethical regime introduced by the new US administration and designed to draw a line between the approach of President Biden to the financial interests of his family and that of his predecessor, Donald Trump.
The new procedures mean that members of President Biden’s family must first discuss potential business commitments or deal with their own lawyers, then, if necessary, inform the White House attorney. After the White House offers its advice to proceed, family members make the final decision. The rules are intended to ensure that members of the president’s family do not have conflicts of interest with U.S. government issues.
A White House official said: “The president has adopted rules and standards of ethics for his administration that go beyond those of any other administration in history, and includes rules for his relatives.”
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 activity in the UK, or its findings. Ethical reviews by the White House counselor are expected to take some time. The Financial Times contacted the White House for comment Friday on James Biden’s business plans in the UK.
James Biden has invested in a number of business ventures in the United States, including a controversial attempt to buy the Paradigm hedge fund in 2006 with his nephew, Hunter. 2BT was listed first as a director in the UK, according to Companies House presentations.
In January, Joe Biden told CNN that his family “will not be involved in any business, in 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 lawyers Ricardo Nicolás Mallo Huergo and José Luis Manzano, a former member of the Argentine Congress and associate of James Biden. Huergo and Manzano are, respectively, general counsel and president of Buenos Aires ’private company, 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 media group Grupo America, the second largest media company in the country. According to Spanish media, James Biden attended Manzano’s wedding in 2015.
Both Argentines are already investing in traditional energy projects including oil and gas via 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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