Hunter Biden pleads not guilty to federal tax charges

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Hunter Biden at the US Capitol on WednesdayImage source, Getty Images

US President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, has pleaded not guilty to tax offences.

Federal prosecutors in California indicted him last month on nine criminal counts, including for failing to pay his taxes on time from 2016 to 2019, filing false tax returns in 2018 and tax evasion.

If convicted on these charges, Mr Biden could face up to 17 years in prison.

He is also facing separate federal charges over gun offences, to which he has already pleaded not guilty.

The two sets of charges follow the implosion last summer of a plea deal Mr Biden had struck with prosecutors that would have likely seen him avoid prison time and avert a criminal trial in the midst of his father’s bid for re-election.

Mr Biden, 53, made his first appearance in the tax case at a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on Thursday afternoon, with his lawyer Abbe Lowell entering a not guilty plea on his behalf.

The father of four agreed to be released without detention on several conditions, including that he cannot drink, consume drugs, maintain employment or buy guns.

If he violates the terms of his release, the judge warned there would be an arrest warrant out for the president’s son and he may be imprisoned.

According to the 56-page charge sheet filed against Mr Biden in December, he made more than $7m (£5.5m) in gross income between 2016 and 2020 from business dealings in Ukraine, and related to connections from Romania and China.

Prosecutors say Mr Biden “wilfully” failed to either pay or file his taxes to the Internal Revenue Service from 2016 to 2019, instead spending his money on personal extravagances.

“Between 2016 and Oct 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, in short, everything but his taxes,” the document states.

The charges span a period when Mr Biden was addicted to alcohol and crack cocaine.

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