The founder of the now-closed Buffalo startup unequivocally called the claims made in the Senate report false.
BUFFALO, NY – Bak USA was a shining star at the start of the Buffalo startup scene when it officially opened in 2015.
The Michigan Avenue-based tech company has been touted time and time again by state and local authorities. Bak USA had a partnership with Microsoft, and you could even find their tablets at Microsoft retail stores.
The tech company received a large investment from Tom Golisano in May 2015, when it was announced that he was buying a 50% stake and injecting him millions of dollars.
But in 2018, citing tariffs imposed by President Trump, the company shut down.
Since then, there has been no significant mention of Bak USA in the news, until yesterday.
On Wednesday, the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs released a majority report titled “Hunter Biden, Burisma and Corruption: The Impact on US Government Policy and Related Concerns.” On page 70 of the report it says this:
“Separately, between May 6, 2015 and December 8, 2015, Baturina sent 11 wire transfers in the amount of $ 391,968.21 to a bank account owned by BAK USA LLC (BAK USA). Nine of the 11 transactions, totaling 241 $ 797.14 was sent from Baturina to a Rosemont Seneca Thornton bank account, which then transferred the money to BAK USA. The 11 transactions all listed “Loan Agreement” in the payment details section. BAK USA was a Buffalo, NY-headquartered tech startup that produced tablet computers in cooperation with anonymous Chinese business partners. BAK USA filed for bankruptcy on March 29, 2019, with a reported loss of $ 39 million. These transactions were identified due to the reported criminal activity of Baturina.
The paragraph alleges that a Russian billionaire transferred nearly $ 400,000 to Bak USA through a Chinese bank account and did so between May 5, 2016 and December of the same year.
“It’s not true, it’s false,” said JP Bak, co-founder of Bak USA.
2 On Your Side spoke to Bak, and apparently 2 On Your Side is the only one asking him. Not just as a news agency, but including investigators who worked on behalf of the committee that submitted the report.
Bak says no one from the federal government contacted him to discuss what Bak USA was accused of in the report.
“No, Zero,” Bak said when we asked him if anyone from the government had spoken to him.
Bak USA LLC was established in 2014, but a year later applied for the dissolution of this company and the name change. Coincidentally, this happened 5 days before these so-called wire transfers took place. The documents to dissolve the company were certified in July 2015.
“When Tom Golisano bought the shares of Bak USA, we closed this New York entity, which was called Bank USA LLC,” Bak said. “We transferred the old activities to Bak USA Technologies Inc., which is a Delaware.
Here is the timeline of Bak USA history:
Bak told 2 On Your Side that he had never even heard of the Russian billionaire mentioned in the Senate report and that they had never had any Chinese partners.
“We never received any funds for this particular person,” Bak said. “But more importantly, the company that was used was used for these transactions at that time did not exist.”
So how did a US Senate report alleged that a Buffalo-based company received money from a Russian billionaire through a Chinese bank account?
The Senate report cites evidence marked 307 in the paragraph that mentions Bak USA. But the document is confidential.
This is the only evidence referenced.
2 On Your Side reached out to Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson to try to ask questions about the claims made in the report he oversaw for the Senate Finance Committee. His office did not return our call at the time this story was filed.
WGRZ asked JP Bak directly if he has unequivocally denied any involvement with Russian billionaires, Chinese business partners, and whether the claims in the Senate report are false.