Joe Biden’s son Hunter receives federal tax evasion indictment

| Updated: 08 December, 2023 1:51 pm IST
Hunter and Joe Biden

NEW DELHI: In a significant development, Hunter Biden has been indicted on nine tax charges in California, marking a heightened phase in the special counsel investigation into the business dealings of the President’s son. The charges include three felonies and six misdemeanours, adding to the federal firearms charges in Delaware related to alleged gun possession by Hunter Biden, a law-breaking incident in 2018.

Special counsel David Weiss emphasised Hunter Biden’s lavish spending habits, diverting millions of dollars towards an extravagant lifestyle instead of settling his tax obligations. The charges are specifically focused on approximately $1.4 million in taxes he owed between 2016 and 2019, a period in which he acknowledged struggling with addiction.

If convicted, Hunter Biden could face up to 17 years in prison, and the special counsel investigation remains ongoing, as confirmed by Mr. Weiss. While earlier expectations hinted at Hunter Biden pleading guilty to misdemeanour tax charges, defence attorneys now signal their intent to contest the new charges.

The White House refrained from commenting on Thursday’s indictment, redirecting inquiries to the Justice Department or Hunter Biden’s representatives. An earlier plea deal covering tax years 2017 and 2018 collapsed in July, raising questions about its legitimacy and drawing criticism as a “sweetheart deal” from Republican investigators.

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Congressional Republicans have pursued an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, alleging involvement in an influence-peddling scheme with his son. The House is slated to vote on authorising the inquiry next week. Despite ethical concerns surrounding the Biden family’s international business, no evidence has emerged to implicate Joe Biden in any abuse of his office or acceptance of bribes.

Delaware US Attorney David Weiss has been leading the criminal investigation since 2018. The initial plea deal, which Hunter Biden planned to strike over the summer, involved pleading guilty to two misdemeanour tax evasion charges and resolving a separate gun charge. The deal would have spared him jail time with two years of probation.

After the deal collapsed, federal gun charges were filed, alleging Hunter Biden lied about his drug use to purchase a gun in 2018. The charge, based on the prohibition of gun possession by “habitual drug users,” has raised legal questions. Hunter Biden’s substance abuse struggles, exacerbated by his brother Beau Biden’s death in 2015, were cited in the prosecutors’ arguments.

Although he eventually filed taxes in 2020, back taxes were paid by a “third party” the following year, according to prosecutors. The immunity provisions in the scuttled plea agreement are disputed, with defence attorneys asserting their validity and prosecutors highlighting the lack of a judge’s signature on those documents.

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