Chinese Mining Co. Sold to Swiss Firm, Hires Biden Clean Energy Czar’s Brother to Lobby U.S.

A Canadian-based mining company long owned by a Chinese syndicate was recently transferred to a Swiss firm, in an apparent effort to escape scrutiny under Canada’s new rules to crack down on foreign investments (mainly Chinese) in the critical minerals sector for national security reasons. The original company, Canadian Royalties Inc. (CRI) is now run by Canadian Assets SA, but the President and CEO is the same Chinese mining executive and investor, James Xiang, who ran it for China, according to Quebec public records. The curious change came to Judicial Watch’s attention after publishing a story about the lobbyist brother of President Biden’s clean energy czar getting paid to lobby the U.S. government on behalf of Chinese interests seeking to corner the market on vital raw materials to produce electric vehicle (EV) batteries, which the administration continues to invest heavily in.

Judicial Watch identified the company as CRI and quickly received a veiled threat from an Ottawa-based law firm, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, claiming to represent the new Swiss version of CRI. In an electronic mail to Judicial Watch a partner in the law firm, Michael Boehm, writes that his client, which he identifies as “Canadian Royalties Inc.,” would prefer that the story “stay down” after Judicial Watch pulled it from its website to add the information about the Swiss transfer. “If it does stay down, I have been instructed not to pursue this matter further,” Boehm writes in the email. Just months ago, CRI was owned by a Chinese company called Jilin Jien Nickel Industry, records obtained by Judicial Watch show. The mystery surrounding the sudden transfer to a Swiss firm was briefly addressed in a Montreal news report about Ottawa halting three Chinese companies’ investments in critical minerals for national security reasons. In the story, the reporter writes this: “Two months ago, the Chinese Canadian Royalties passed into the hands of the firm Canadian Assets SA, located in Switzerland, but the president and chief operating officer remained the same, James Xiang, if we rely on the Company Register of Quebec. James Xiang has also previously been president of North American Lithium (NAL). Canadian Royalties did not respond to questions from the Journal.” Judicial Watch also reached out to CRI but has not received a reply.

Based in Nunavik, Quebec CRI has a long history with China. The Chinese firm’s acquisition of CRI in 2009 was “China’s first attempt at a hostile takeover of a Canadian company,” according to a report in Canada’s largest newspaper, which also reveals the “hostile bid was a test case that attempted to gauge the public and political reaction to an unsolicited bid for Canadian resource assets by a Chinese company.” Xian’s professional biography says he “has raised over $2 billion for Chinese companies from private equity investors and via international listings in the last two decades.” He also leads China Mineral Resources, an organization that since 2009 has invested more than $1 billion in global Canadian companies with Chinese and other shareholders. Xiang has executive affiliations with several other Chinese-owned mining and exploration companies and is Board Chair for Northern Sun Mining, which is majority-owned by Jilin Jien. He was the CEO of North American Lithium, which was also majority-owned by Jien International Investment prior to its acquisition by CATL, the Chinese EV battery company recently banned from use in DOD equipment due to security concerns.

Why should all this matter to American taxpayers? President Biden has a powerful clean energy czar, Democratic political operative John Podesta, charged with disbursing $370 billion in clean energy investments and his brother, Tony Podesta, is a lobbyist for CRI, which is listed as Canadian Royalties Inc. in the lobbying disclosures obtained by Judicial Watch. Before its recent Swiss incorporation CRI long represented Chinese interests seeking to corner the market on vital raw materials to produce EV batteries. Tony Podesta received $40,000 from CRI in the fourth quarter of 2023 to lobby the Department of Defense and Department of Education on “issues related to the development of nickel and other critical minerals for the U.S.” Nickel is a crucial element in the production of EV batteries and, besides allocating billions for batteries, the Biden administration has also invested enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars to promote EV ownership and reliable charging networks. On top of offering generous tax credits for EV buyers, the administration has doled out hundreds of millions of dollars to increase the reliability and resilience of publicly accessible chargers, advance EV technologies, and support workforce development for charging deployment and maintenance. John Podesta’s official title is Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation. Judicial Watch reported on the special appointment last fall, offering an extensive history of Podesta’s dirty dealings in presidential politics. The Podesta brothers’ arrangement seems to violate a 2021 Biden order to “restore ethics in government” by banning members of his administration from using public service for private gain.

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The motto of Judicial Watch is “Because no one is above the law”. To this end, Judicial Watch uses the open records or freedom of information laws and other tools to investigate and uncover misconduct by government officials and litigation to hold to account politicians and public officials who engage in corrupt activities.