Hunter Biden Says His Taxes Are Under Investigation
President-elect’s son believes review ‘will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately’. Hunter Biden Says His Taxes Are Under Investigation
Hunter Biden, the son of President-elect Joe Biden, said in a statement Wednesday that the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware is “investigating my tax affairs,” putting his financial dealings in the spotlight, as his father builds his administration.
Hunter Biden said he takes the matter “very seriously” and is “confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately.”
The Justice Department declined to comment on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman at the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware declined to comment, citing DOJ policy regarding ongoing investigations.
The criminal investigation that included tax issues began in 2018, according to a person familiar with the matter. It is limited to Hunter Biden and his business dealings and doesn’t implicate other members of his family or the president-elect, two other people said. The investigation was sparked in part by reports of suspicious activity filed by a bank that handled foreign transactions related to Hunter Biden, one person said.
The younger Mr. Biden, 50 years old, is an attorney and businessman who has engaged in extensive dealings with foreign companies. Those include serving on the board of a Ukrainian natural-gas company, Burisma, from May 2014 to April 2019, where he was paid roughly $50,000 a month for his work. He also was a director of a private-equity firm in China and had business dealings with a Chinese oil company.
The IRS in 2018 issued a lien against Hunter Biden and his ex-wife for $112,805 in unpaid taxes, public documents show. The pair paid the taxes, and the lien was released in March 2020, according to the documents.
The younger Mr. Biden said in the statement that he learned about the investigation for the first time Tuesday through his legal counsel, who he said was advised of it by the U.S. attorney’s office on the same day. The Biden transition declined to say when the president-elect learned of the investigation.
The statement, which was circulated by Joe Biden’s transition team, said the president-elect is “deeply proud of his son, who has fought through difficult challenges, including the vicious personal attacks of recent months, only to emerge stronger.”
The announcement of the investigation comes more than a month before the presidential inauguration, and as the president-elect is weighing his attorney-general pick, who could oversee the investigation if it extends into the new administration. A person familiar with Mr. Biden’s transition said a decision is expected next week.
The person said the leading contenders are former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, outgoing Sen. Doug Jones (D., Ala.) and federal judge Merrick Garland.
The transition’s statement didn’t give any more detail about the investigation. A person familiar with the younger Mr. Biden said it wasn’t related to President Trump’s criticism of him during the presidential campaign, when Mr. Trump suggested Joe Biden and his family members had benefited financially from his time as vice president.
Mr. Trump’s efforts to persuade the Ukrainian government to investigate Mr. Biden and his son also were at the center of his impeachment a year ago by the Democratic-led House. Throughout the election, Joe Biden denied any wrongdoing and said he had no involvement in his son’s foreign contracts.
A Republican Senate investigation earlier this year looked into Hunter Biden’s finances, examining a series of payments it alleged he received from entities linked to Chinese oil company CEFC China Energy Co, among others. The GOP findings, based on documents obtained from the Treasury Department, showed that Hunter Biden’s law firm, Owasco PC, received nearly $5 million from CEFC.
Hunter Biden told the New Yorker in 2019 that he had been given a diamond by Ye Jianming, who then headed CEFC China, which he said was worth close to $10,000. He told the magazine he gave the diamond to his associates and didn’t know what they did with it.
Hunter Biden also was a partner in the 2017 formation of a Delaware registered company called SinoHawk Holdings LLC. Hunter Biden and a group of Western businessmen set up the company as a joint venture with CEFC, which was eager to invest in the U.S. SinoHawk was never funded as planned and did no deals, people involved and business records show. CEFC operated in this venture through its own Delaware entity. The FBI invited one of the partners in the venture for an interview earlier this year after he made a series of public allegations about it.
Hunter Biden has owned 10% of a Shanghai private-equity firm, known as BHR Partners, since 2017 through a corporation registered in Delaware and was formerly a director there.
Barr Worked To Keep Hunter Biden Probes From Public View During Election
The attorney general knew for months about investigations into Biden’s business and financial dealings.
Attorney General William Barr has known about a disparate set of investigations involving Hunter Biden’s business and financial dealings since at least this spring, a person familiar with the matter said, and worked to avoid their public disclosure during the heated election campaign.
Republicans and President Trump have pressed Mr. Barr for months to pursue Mr. Biden, especially as his father, Joe Biden, gained momentum in his ultimately successful bid for president. Mr. Barr has staved off pressure from Republicans in Congress for information into the investigations, the person said, without elaborating on his actions.
One investigation became public this week after federal investigators served a subpoena on Hunter Biden. The subpoena sought detailed financial information in connection with a criminal tax investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware, according to people familiar with the matter.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan had also been looking at Hunter Biden’s business and financial dealings, as part of a broader criminal investigation that two people familiar with the matter described as an international financial investigation that had been going on for at least a year. Hunter Biden is implicated in that investigation but was never a specific target for criminal prosecution, the people said. They declined to provide details on the substance of the probe.
The federal scrutiny dates back to 2018, the people familiar with the matter said.
Neither the Delaware nor the Manhattan investigation implicates President-elect Biden, according to people familiar with the matter.
Hunter Biden said in a statement Wednesday that his lawyer advised him about the investigation into his “tax affairs” and said he had acted legally and appropriately. His lawyer, George Mesires, didn’t respond to questions on Thursday.
The Biden transition team has declined to say when Joe Biden learned of the investigation. A statement circulated by that team on Wednesday said President-elect Biden is “proud of his son, who has fought through difficult challenges, including the vicious personal attacks of recent months, only to emerge stronger.”
While the investigations in Delaware and Manhattan proceeded, investigators tried to keep the cases out of public view by taking few visible steps in the weeks before the November election, recognizing the impact their work could have, said one of the people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Barr was aware of the investigations involving Hunter Biden before the spring, the person said, though it isn’t clear when or how he first learned of the inquiries.
Mr. Trump has fumed about Mr. Barr for a number of reasons including his acknowledgment last week that the Justice Department hadn’t found widespread evidence of election fraud that would reverse Mr. Biden’s victory.
On Thursday night, Mr. Trump tweeted his frustration about the Justice Department and the FBI’s failure to disclose the Hunter Biden investigation earlier. “Why didn’t the Fake News Media, the FBI and the DOJ report the Biden matter BEFORE the Election,” he wrote.
Justice Department guidelines advise investigators against taking overt actions in a run-up to an election so as not to be seen as affecting the outcome.
Mr. Trump talked of involving Mr. Barr when he urged the president of Ukraine in a July 2019 phone call to announce an investigation into Joe Biden and his son. Mr. Trump said he would direct his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and Mr. Barr to contact the Ukrainian president. The Justice Department said Mr. Trump never asked Mr. Barr to contact the Ukrainians. The request ultimately led to Mr. Trump’s impeachment by the House.
Appeals from Republicans to investigate Hunter Biden stepped up in the weeks leading up to the election. After a Republican Senate investigation in September produced a report on Hunter Biden’s finances and overseas business interests, several Republican lawmakers demanded that the Justice Department investigate.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R, Ohio), for example, the ranking member of the House Judiciary panel, wrote to Federal Bureau of Investigation director Christopher Wray asking what steps the FBI had taken to investigate the information in the “explosive report.”
An FBI spokeswoman said the bureau responded to the letter and declined to comment further.
On Oct. 19, Mr. Trump’s Republican allies in Congress urged Mr. Barr to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden and his father, and demanded that Mr. Barr respond within five days.
A day later, asked on Fox News whether he supported tapping a special prosecutor, Mr. Trump said: “We’ve got to get the attorney general to act. He’s got to act, and he’s got to act fast. He’s got to appoint somebody. This is major corruption and this has to be known about before the election.”
The tax investigation into Hunter Biden was sparked in part by reports of suspicious activity filed by a bank that handled foreign transactions related to him, a person familiar with the matter said.
Mr. Biden, a lawyer, has had various sources of income from the U.S. and overseas. In addition to legal work in recent years, he has been a partner in some U.S.-based investment companies.
His earnings from work outside the U.S. included a board seat for around five years until April 2019 at Ukraine gas company Burisma Holdings, where he was paid roughly $50,000 a month for his work.
Mr. Biden also did advisory work for China CEFC Energy Co., as the company pursued deals in Europe and the Middle East, and in 2017 he was a shareholder in a venture with that Chinese company as it sought a foothold in the U.S. While the joint venture never got off the ground, the Senate Republican report in September alleged an entity linked to CEFC paid Mr. Biden’s law firm millions of dollars for legal and advisory work.
Around the time CEFC was trying to break into the U.S., its activity became a focus of a corruption case brought by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, which resulted in the 2018 conviction of a former Hong Kong official on charges that he bribed African officials to secure business benefits for CEFC. The company, which is now effectively defunct, wasn’t charged in the U.S. corruption case.
Mr. Biden is also a 10% shareholder in a Shanghai private-equity firm and earlier sat on its board, though the board position was unpaid and he is among investors who haven’t recouped their investment, say people with knowledge of the situation. His investment was $420,000 for 10% of the firm, which owns stakes in several companies, most in China.