US President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden has been indicted on nine tax charges in California as probe into his business dealings intensifies against the backdrop of the upcoming 2024 election. The new charges – three felonies and six misdemeanors – come besides the federal firearms charges in Delaware alleging Hunter Biden broke a law against drug users possessing guns in 2018. He had been previously expected to plead guilty to misdemeanor tax charges as part of a plea deal with prosecutors who said he failed to pay taxes on USD4 million in personal income in 2017 and 2018.
According to the Defence attorneys, they plan to fight any new charges. The agreement imploded in July after a judge raised questions about it. It had also been pilloried as a “sweetheart deal” by Republicans investigating nearly every aspect of Hunter Biden's business dealings as well as the Justice Department's handling of the case.
The Congressional Republicans have also sought an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden and claimed that he was involved in an influence-peddling scheme with his son. The House is likely to vote next week on formally authorising the inquiry.
While questions have arisen about the ethics surrounding the Biden family's international business, no evidence has emerged so far to prove that Joe Biden, in his current or previous office, abused his role or accepted bribes.
The criminal investigation led by Delaware US Attorney David Weiss has been open since 2018, and was expected to wind down with the plea deal that Hunter Biden had planned to strike with prosecutors over the summer.
He would have pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor tax evasion charges and would have entered a separate agreement on the gun charge. He would have served two years of probation rather than get jail time.
Hunter Biden's longstanding struggle with substance abuse had worsened during the period after the death of his brother Beau Biden in 2015, prosecutors wrote in a draft plea agreement filed in court in Delaware.
He still made “substantial income” in 2017 and 2018, including USD2.6 million in business and consulting fees from a company he formed with the CEOs of a Chinese business conglomerate and the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, but did not pay his taxes, prosecutors said in that filing.
He did eventually file his taxes in 2020 and the back taxes were paid by a “third party” the following year, prosecutors said.
(With AP inputs)