The embattled son of President Joe Biden is in legal hot water once again.
On Thursday, Hunter Biden was hit with nine tax charges in California, taking his slate of pending criminal counts up to 12 and adding further fire to the roaring scandal swirling around the first son.
In the indictment, which follows an investigation by special counsel and Donald Trump-appointee David Weiss, Hunter Biden is accused of engaging “in a four-year scheme to not pay at least $1.4m in self-assessed federal taxes he owed for tax years 2016 through 2019, from in or about January 2017 through in or about October 15, 2020, and to evade the assessment of taxes for tax year 2018 when he filed false returns in or about February 2020”.
The nine charges include two counts of filing a false return, one count of tax evasion, four counts of failing to pay taxes and two counts of failure to file taxes. He is facing up to 17 years in prison if convicted.
As well as detailing the taxes Hunter Biden allegedly avoided paying, the indictment also lays out in excruciating detail the president’s son’s alleged flamboyant – and highly embarrassing – spending habits.
It reveals how the scandal-plagued president’s son allegedly did have the cash to make the $1.4m tax payments he owed over a four-year period.
But, he allegedly chose to skip out on the payments to instead blow millions on a lavish lifestyle of “drugs, escorts and girlfriends” – including $27,000 in payments to a porn website.
“Between 2016 and October 15, 2020, the Defendant spent this money on drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature,” the indictment alleges.
As prosecutors put it: “In short, everything but his taxes.”
Hunter Biden ‘earned millions while dodging taxes’
According to the indictment, Hunter Biden earned more than $7m in total gross income between 2016 and 15 October 2020 – as well as an additional $1.2m in financial support from a mystery friend.
This included gross earnings of over $1.5m in 2016, $2.3m in 2017, $2.1m in 2018 and $1m in 2019.
In the roughly 10-month period in 2020, Hunter Biden also received around $188,000 in gross income.
This income came from multiple sources.
Firstly, Hunter Biden was serving on the board of Ukrainian industrial conglomerate Burisma and Chinese private equity fund CEFC China Energy – foreign business activity that has been seized upon by right-wing critics and used to decry claims of corruption within the Biden family.
Through this work, he was paid “millions” in compensation for negotiating and executing contracts and agreements, according to the DOJ. For example, he received around $2.3m from Burisma between 2016 and 2019.
Separately, Hunter Biden was also receiving money from an entertainment lawyer – described only as a “Personal Friend” – “to fund his extravagant lifestyle”.
This “substantial financial support” of more than $1.2m ran from January through 15 October 2020.
This allegedly included around $200,000 a month to “rent a lavish house on a canal in Venice, California; $11,000 in payments for his Porsche; and other individual items”.
Hunter Biden also received funds through other means including a $140,625 payment from a publisher for his memoir Beautiful Things.
But none of this money – neither the millions of dollars in income or the $1.2m in financial support from the mystery friend – was spent on paying taxes, prosecutors allege.
Instead, prosecutors allege that he “spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle rather than paying his tax bills”.
What happened to Hunter Biden’s missing millions?
In the four years from 2016 to 2019, Hunter Biden blew around $4.9m keeping up with his “extravagant” lifestyle from opulent hotels and cars, to drugs and escorts, according to the indictment.
In 2016, he spent around $1m, $1.4m in 2017, $1.9m in 2018, and $600,000 in 2019, the indictment alleges.
A breakdown of his alleged spending, detailed in the indictment, reveals thousands went on “adult entertainment”, payments to “various women”, and “rehab”.
Between 2016 and 2019, Hunter Biden allegedly spent $188,960 on “adult entertainment”, $71,869 on “rehab”, and withdrew a staggering $1.6m in cash or ATM withdrawals.
He also allegedly spent $683,212 on a category named “payments – various women”, with $383,548 of that being spent in 2018 alone.
That same year, he also allegedly spent $100,330 on “adult entertainment” – yet just $500 on “loan/mortgage payments”.
The year 2018 was indeed Hunter Biden’s most expensive, spending almost $1.9m in total, according to the indictment.
The DOJ describes that year as a time when Hunter Biden “continued to earn handsomely and to spend wildly”, spending around $772,000 in cash withdrawals, $383,000 in payments to women, $151,000 in clothing and accessories, and around $78,000 in miscellaneous retail purchases and other payments.
In what will no doubt pose an even bigger headache for President Biden, a number of single, embarrassing payments are outlined in the indictment.
There’s a curious $975 payment in September 2018 to “Crutch Card” – something that is described as being “for the benefit of the Defendant’s then-girlfriend and was unrelated to any business activity of the Defendant’s”.
There’s also a $1,500 Venmo payment to an exotic dancer at a strip club in August 2018. (Hunter Biden allegedly tried to pass off this payment as being “for artwork”, prosecutors allege.)
And there was $3,947 paid to M Street Management, a strip club in Washington DC, in January 2018, as well as $1,248 for airline tickets to fly an exotic dancer from Los Angeles to New York that September.
That same year, Hunter Biden had also splashed out $11,500 to pay an escort to spend two nights with him, the indictment alleges.
In total, Hunter Biden also allegedly spent $27,316 on a pornography website – payments he made using his business line of credit.
The president’s son’s penchant for the finer things was also revealed in the documents, detailing numerous payments for fancy hotels, expensive flights and fast cars.
Among this was $43,693 spent on stays at the famed Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles, California, a $275 meal at Nobu, and a $3,852 rental of a Lamborghini.
As well as splashing the cash on his flamboyant lifestyle rather than paying taxes, prosecutors allege that Hunter Biden also paid some of the women he was in relationships with – and declared it as wages.
In 2018 alone, he allegedly sought to place three women who he was in romantic or sexual relationships with on payroll to reduce his tax burden. A fourth woman who was related to one of those women was also placed on the payroll.
Among those women was Lunden Roberts, who he allegedly placed on payroll after she moved to Arkansas while pregnant with his child. Ms Roberts and Hunter Biden would later become embroiled in a paternity battle over their child.
“In each year in which he failed to pay his taxes, the Defendant had sufficient funds available to him to pay some or all of his outstanding taxes when they were due,” the indictment states.
“But he chose not to pay them.”
Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell slammed the indictment in a statement, saying: “Based on the facts and the law, if Hunter’s last name was anything other than Biden, the charges in Delaware, and now California, would not have been brought.
“First, US Attorney Weiss bowed to Republican pressure to file unprecedented and unconstitutional gun charges to renege on a non-prosecution resolution.
“Now, after five years of investigating with no new evidence – and two years after Hunter paid his taxes in full — the US Attorney has piled on nine new charges when he had agreed just months ago to resolve this matter with a pair of misdemeanors”.
While Hunter Biden faces up to 17 years in prison on the charges, the revealing 56-page indictment is likely to be troubling for the president, coming at a time when he is seeking a second term and when Republicans are pushing unfounded allegations of corruption.
The new indictment marks only the latest legal trouble for the president’s son after he was hit with three felony gun charges in September over a gun purchase in 2018 when he was in the throes of drug addiction.
Those charges came after he reached a plea deal with the Justice Department back in June before the terms of the agreement fell apart before a judge.
Under the terms of the deal, Hunter had agreed to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanours for failing to pay his taxes on time in 2017 and 2018. In exchange, prosecutors would not charge with him a gun possession violation.
The judge refused to accept the scope of the plea deal and the agreement – which was slammed as a “sweetheart deal” by Biden critics – fell apart.
This then paved the way for first the three-count indictment on gun charges and, now secondly, the nine-count indictment on tax charges.