October 27, 2021

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False claim that Biden family owns 10% of Chinese battery company

The claim: Biden family owns 10% of prominent Chinese lithium battery company

A new conspiracy theory claims President Joe Biden and his family own part of one of China’s biggest lithium battery companies, despite official paperwork refuting the claim.

“The Bidens own 10% of a Chinese lithium ion battery company whos (sic) stock has soared almost 300% since Biden was ‘elected,'” a Sept. 6 Facebook post reads. “For anyone interested in researching the company = Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Limited (CATL).”

The post has been shared almost 1,000 times. Other versions posted online have also accrued thousands of shares collectively.

Leading up to the 2020 election, theories claiming Biden and his son, Hunter, had accepted payoffs from foreign countries went viral. Then-President Donald Trump frequently accused them of wrongdoing with China and Ukraine, calling for an investigation in 2019.

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But official documents show Biden, and his family, don’t actually hold any stakes in the company mentioned.

USA TODAY reached out to the poster for comment.

Biden family not shareholders in Chinese company

Contemporary Amperex Technology Company is a fast-growing Chinese battery manufacturer for electric vehicles, supplying batteries to car companies including BMW, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz.

Shares of the company have increased by over 150% since 2020 due to the higher demand for electric vehicles, Forbes reported in May.

In August, Biden signed an executive order with a target of making half of all cars sold zero-emissions by 2030. All-electric cars, which use a battery pack to store the electrical energy that powers the motor, are considered zero-emission vehicles by the Department of Energy because they produce no direct exhaust or tailpipe emissions.

The image being shared across social media doesn’t offer any evidence demonstrating Biden or his family own a stake in CATL.

Biden and his wife, Jill, released financial disclosure forms when he was running for president in 2020, and again in 2021, and neither mentions CATL.

The assets and income listed on the form include an unspecified amount from Biden’s books “Promises to Keep” and “Promise Me, Dad,” an investment fund and Jill Biden’s retirement plans, among others.

Biden’s disclosure forms between 1995 and 2015 also don’t mention CATL in the assets or income sections.

Alex Baumgart, who researches personal financial data at the nonprofit Open Secrets, told USA TODAY in an email he didn’t find “any indication that the president is an investor in this Chinese battery company.” Biden’s most recent tax documents also don’t mention CATL.

In addition to the disclosure forms, Biden and his family are not listed among any of CATL’s shareholders, according to MarketScreener, a stock market and finance website.

The three shareholders that own 10% or more of CATL are the company’s chairman, Yu Qun Zeng (42%), the vice chairman and deputy general manager, Shi Lin Huang (19%) and Chinese billionaire Zhen Hua Pei (12%).

The White House didn’t immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.

The only relationship between the Biden family and CATL seems to be from a 2018 investment by Hunter Biden in a Chinese private equity firm.

In an investigative article about Hunter’s business activities, the Wall Street Journal reported Hunter Biden became a shareholder in 2017 in Bohai Harvest RST Equity Investment Fund Management Co. (BHR), a private-equity firm that later invested in CATL.

When CATL’s stock surged by 44% in its debut session as a publicly-traded company on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2018, Hunter was among the shareholders who profited from BHR’s investment in the company, the newspaper reported.

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The incorrect 10% figure in the Facebook post may have originated from a misunderstanding of this investment. The Journal reported that as of December 2020, Delaware corporation Skaneateles LLC, which is controlled by Hunter Biden, owned 10% of BHR – not CATL.

Our rating: False

We rate the claim that the Biden family owns 10% of a prominent Chinese lithium battery company FALSE, based on our research. While the White House didn’t immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment, Biden’s official disclosure forms from 2020 and his years as vice president don’t mention CATL. An investigative article from The Wall Street Journal found that Hunter Biden benefitted from CATL’s stock surge in 2018 because a company he was a shareholder in, BHR, had invested in it. But Hunter Biden and companies connected to him don’t own 10% of CATL.

Our fact-check sources:

  • David Witter, Sept. 5, Facebook post

  • Janet Sutherland, Sept. 7, Facebook post

  • USA TODAY, Oct. 22, 2020, ‘Nothing was unethical’: Joe Biden defends Hunter Biden under pressure from Trump in debate

  • BBC News, April 6, Hunter Biden: What was he doing in China and Ukraine?

  • NBC News, Oct. 7, 2019, Trump is pushing a baseless conspiracy about the Bidens and China. Here’s what we know

  • CATL, accessed Sept. 22, Company Profile

  • Forbes, May 3, 2021, This Chinese Battery Company Has Produced More Billionaires than Google or Facebook

  • USA TODAY, Aug. 5, 2021, ‘No turning back:’ Biden signs order targeting half of all vehicles sold in US to be zero-emissions by 2030

  • Department of Energy, accessed Sept. 22, Alternative Fuels Data Center: All-Electric vehicles

  • Joe Biden, accessed Sept. 22, Financial disclosure form 2020

  • White House, accessed Sept. 22, Financial disclosure form 2021

  • White House, accessed Sept. 22, Financial disclosure form 2009

  • White House, accessed Sept. 22, Financial disclosure form 2010

  • White House, accessed Sept. 22, Financial disclosure form 2011

  • White House, accessed Sept. 22, Financial disclosure form 2012

  • White House, accessed Sept. 22, Financial disclosure form 2013

  • White House, accessed Sept. 22, Financial disclosure form 2014

  • White House, accessed Sept. 22, Financial disclosure form 2015

  • Open Secrets, accessed Sept. 23, Joseph R. Biden, Reports

  • Alex Baumgart, accessed Sept. 23, Open Secrets: “Our Team”

  • Open Secrets, accessed Sept. 23, Our vision and Mission

  • Alex Baumgart, Sept. 23, Email exchange with USA TODAY

  • White House, accessed Sept. 23, Joe Biden’s taxes from 2020

  • Shenzhen Stock Exchange, accessed Sept. 23, Companies By Name lookup

  • Marketscreener, accessed Sept. 22, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co.

  • Bloomberg, accessed Sept. 22, #156 Pei Zhenhua

  • The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 22, 2020, Hunter Biden’s Family Name Aided Deals With Foreign Tycoons

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Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: False claim that Biden family owns 10% of Chinese company

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