LOS ANGELES – U.S. President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, was charged with multiple tax offenses by the Department of Justice on Thursday. The charges allege that he failed to pay $1.4 million in taxes while living a lavish lifestyle.

The charges

According to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Hunter Biden, 53, was charged with three felony and six misdemeanor tax offenses. He could face up to 17 years in prison if convicted. The Justice Department said its investigation into Biden is ongoing.

The indictment stated that Hunter Biden “engaged in a four-year scheme to not pay at least $1.4 million in self-assessed federal taxes he owed for tax years 2016 through 2019”. It also claimed that he spent huge sums “on drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature” including over $70,000 on drug rehabilitation.

The defense

Hunter Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, issued a statement saying that his client had repaid his taxes in full. He accused U.S. Special Counsel David Weiss, who is leading the probe into Hunter Biden, of breaking a previous agreement and political bias.

Lowell said that the charges in Delaware and California were motivated by Hunter Biden’s last name. He also said that Weiss “bowed to Republican pressure” to file earlier gun charges against Hunter Biden, added new tax charges after the taxes were repaid, and did not respond to a request a meeting to discuss the investigation.

The White House declined to comment.

It was not clear when Hunter Biden would appear in court.

The income sources

The indictment said that Hunter Biden “earned handsomely” while serving on the boards of Burisma, a Ukrainian industrial conglomerate, and a Chinese private equity fund.

Prosecutors said that between 2016 and October 2020, he received more than $7 million in total gross income.

That included nearly $2.3 million from his position on the board of directors of Burisma between 2016 and 2019, the filing said.

Hunter Biden’s affiliation with Burisma has been the target of years of attacks from Republican lawmakers who have accused him of leveraging his family name to make money overseas.

The indictment said that Hunter Biden “had a legal obligation to pay taxes on all his income, including income earned in Ukraine from his service on Burisma’s Board, fees generated by deal-making with the Chinese private equity fund, as well as income derived from his work as a lawyer and other sources”.

Another source of income for Hunter Biden was work for CEFC China Energy Co Ltd, a Chinese energy conglomerate.

The spending habits

The indictment said that Hunter Biden’s spending increased as his income increased.

In 2018 alone, the indictment said, Hunter Biden “spent more than $1.8 million, including approximately $772,000 in cash withdrawals, approximately $383,000 in payments to women, approximately $151,000 in clothing and accessories”.

The indictment added: “The Defendant did not use any of these funds to pay his taxes in 2018.”

The previous case

Hunter Biden in October pleaded not guilty to charges in Delaware that he lied about his drug use while buying a handgun, in the first criminal prosecution of a sitting U.S. president’s child.

Weiss was appointed Delaware U.S. attorney by former President Donald Trump. He was made special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland in August.

He brought charges in Delaware against Hunter Biden after the collapse of an earlier proposed plea deal that had called for him to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges for failing to pay taxes in 2017 and 2018, an agreement which likely would have allowed him to avoid prison.

U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika rejected the proposed plea deal in July, raising concerns over its legality and the scope of immunity it offered.