KIEV (Reuters) - An audit of thousands of old case files by Ukrainian prosecutors found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Hunter Biden, the former prosecutor general, who had launched the audit, told Reuters.
Ruslan Ryaboshapka was in the spotlight last year as the man who would decide whether to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, in what became a key issue in the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy described Ryaboshapka as “100 percent my person” on a call in July 2019 in which Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate Biden, the man who became his main rival in the 2020 presidential race.
After taking office, Ryaboshapka in October announced an audit of old cases he inherited, including those related to the energy company Burisma, where Hunter Biden was a board member between 2014-2019.
The audit was intended to probe whether cases Ryaboshapka had inherited from his predecessors had been handled properly, given the reputation of the prosecution service as being riddled with corruption and influence-peddling.
The audit was part of a broader reform of the prosecution service but became politically charged given some of the cases related to Burisma’s founder.
“Regarding the call to Zelenskiy and this story with Burisma. I can say that there was no pressure on me,” Ryaboshapka said. “The audit was completed.”
“I specifically asked prosecutors to check especially carefully those facts about Biden’s alleged involvement. They answered that there was nothing of the kind,” he added.
Ryaboshapka was fired in March after lawmakers accused him of not moving quickly enough in prosecuting cases. Ryaboshapka said he was axed because he had started bringing real reform to the prosecution service for the first time in a way that threatened the interests of corrupt politicians.
Trump was impeached on charges of abuse of power and obstruction in the Democratic-led House of Representatives after he asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. He was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate.
Hunter Biden’s activities at Burisma have also been the target of scrutiny by a U.S. Senate committee.
Unwittingly caught up in the impeachment row last year, Zelenskiy has said Ukrainians are “tired” of the issue and does not want Ukraine being dragged into the 2020 presidential race.
Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Frances Kerry