Hunter Biden subject of federal investigation over taxes

President-elect’s son says tax affairs handled ‘legally and appropriately’

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Thursday 10 December 2020 15:28 GMT
Hunter Biden under federal investigation over taxes
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Hunter Biden is under federal investigation over his tax affairs, according to a press release from the Biden-Harris transition team.

President-elect Joe Biden’s son said in a statement: “I learned yesterday for the first time that the US Attorney’s Office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs.”

He continues: “I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.”

A statement from the Biden-Harris transition team reads: “President-elect Biden is deeply proud of his son, who has fought through difficult challenges, including the vicious personal attacks of recent months, only to emerge stronger.”

In a tweet on Wednesday afternoon the US attorney’s office for Delaware said: “Per DOJ policy, we cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.”

Hunter Biden has struggled with sobriety over the years and became the centre of efforts by Donald Trump to undermine his political rival during the election campaign, though not for his personal problems.

The president and his allies focussed on Mr Biden’s connections with the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings during impeachment proceedings in early 2020, and then continued to speculate over the relationship throughout the campaign.

Mr Biden joined the board of Burisma in May 2014 to take the lead on the company’s efforts towards "transparency, corporate governance and responsibility", a press release stated at the time.

His appointment came amid tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine's energy independence. Then vice president Biden was a key figure in those talks, and the US State Department dismissed concerns about his son's involvement within the country and potential conflicts of interest because he is a "private citizen" — although critics said that even the appearance of a conflict could invite scrutiny.

Five years after his departure from the board, a bombshell story in The New York Times revealed the ties to Ukraine and the removal of a Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin from office over corruption concerns, including Joe Biden's threat to withhold $1bn in loan guarantees unless Mr Shokin was fired.

Despite no evidence of legal wrongdoing, the controversy was leveraged by Rudy Giuliani as part of a conspiracy to deflect from his own interests in Ukraine as well as Donald Trump's attempt to extract damning information on his opponent through his own withholding of military aid to the country.

A whistleblower's report of the president's phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in July 2019 — in which the president suggested withholding congressionally approved funds in exchange for information on the Bidens' ties to Burisma – prompted House Democrats to investigate.

After the impeachment of Mr Trump, Republicans continued to call for an investigation of Mr Biden, with the president leading chants of “lock him up” and calling the family “stone cold crooked” during campaign events. 

Mr Biden has denied any ethical wrongdoing and said he was shocked at being the subject of the phone call between Mr Trump and the Ukrainian president that featured in the impeachment trial.

As the election neared, accusations regarding a laptop belonging to Mr Biden and emails allegedly between him and an adviser to Burisma’s board, became a talking point for the Trump campaign and its surrogates. 

The New York Post published a controversial and unverified story on Mr Biden’s Ukraine links citing emails taken from the laptop hard drive provided by Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.

Other outlets were unable to authenticate the emails and Joe Biden called it a “desperate campaign to smear me and my family”.

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