James, President Joe Biden’s brother, has given up on a clean energy project in the UK after a White House assessment of potential conflicts of interest.
James Biden set up an investment vehicle in May with a British corporate lawyer and two Argentine businessmen. But he dropped the plan just weeks later after a White House review under strict new rules introduced by the Joe Biden administration. The company is now dormant.
James Biden and his wife, Sara Jones Biden, launched 2BT, a UK limited liability company, with Reed Smith partner Peter Teare. 2BT has set up another vehicle, Shelbourne Partners, which was focused on “exploring future investment opportunities, particularly in the clean energy sector,” Teare said.
Weeks after Shelbourne’s launch and after a White House review of James Biden’s plans, Teare said the group had given up on the project.
White House counsel’s assessment of James Biden’s planned British activities is part of an ethical regime put in place by the new US administration that aims to draw a line between President Biden’s approach to the financial interests of his family and those of his predecessor, Donald Trump.
The new procedures mean President Biden’s family members must first discuss possible business arrangements or deals with their own lawyers, then inform White House counsel if necessary. After the White House advises on whether or not to proceed, the family members make the final decision. The rules are designed to ensure that the president’s family members have no conflicts of interest with US government affairs.
A White House official said: “The president has adopted ethical rules and standards for his administration that exceed those of any other administration in history, including standards for his family members.”
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 British activities, or its conclusions. Ethics reviews by White House counsel are believed to take some time. The The Washington City Times reached out to the White House on Friday for comment on James Biden’s British business plans.
James Biden has invested in a series of business deals in the US, including a controversial 2006 bid to buy the hedge fund Paradigm with his cousin Hunter. 2BT was his first listing as a director in the UK, according to Companies House filings.
In January, Joe Biden told CNN that his family “would not be involved in any business, any business that is or appears to be in conflict, where there is sufficient distance from the presidency and 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, a former Argentine congressman and associate of James Biden. Huergo and Manzano are respectively general counsel and president of the Buenos Aires investment company Integra Capital.
According to Huergo, the two Argentines and James Biden are “old” acquaintances. Manzano served in Argentina’s cabinet under President Carlos Menem and founded the media group Grupo America, the country’s second-largest media company. According to Spanish media reports, James Biden attended Manzano’s wedding in 2015.
Both Argentines are already investing in traditional energy projects, including oil and gas, through Integra. Huergo told the The Washington City Times that the new company planned to fund projects aimed at transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy.