What Is Hunter Biden Being Investigated For? Details of Federal Probe

Federal investigators looking into Hunter Biden's business activities are reportedly weighing possible charges, as the probe reaches a "critical stage."

Unnamed sources mentioned by CNN told the news channel that prosecutors are considering charges in relation to alleged tax violations and a possibly false statement made during the purchase of a firearm.

Prosecutors also have to consider Justice Department guidelines around the handling of politically sensitive cases close to an election because the midterms are approaching, according to CNN. An unwritten rule says that such cases shouldn't be brought within 60 days of voting, according to Justice Department officials.

No decision on possible charges has been made yet, according to the sources. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Delaware didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Why Is Hunter Biden Under Investigation?

The probe against Hunter Biden, run by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Delaware, dates back to 2018 and concerns his financial and business activities in foreign countries at the time when his father Joe Biden was vice president.

Federal investigators have been looking at possible money laundering and violations of U.S. tax laws. They have also been examining whether he may have acted as an unregistered foreign lobbying agent while working for foreign interests as a consultant and investor.

Hunter Biden has worked for businesses and tycoons in China, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. He sat on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma for five years between 2014 and 2019, receiving a large salary. The company he set up, Rosemont Seneca Bohai LCC was sent $142,000 by a Kazakh oligarch, money which Hunter Biden then reportedly spent on a sports car.

According to the Washington Post, between 2017 and 2018 a Chinese energy company sent $4.8 million to entities Hunter and his uncle, James Biden, controlled, for legal and advisory work.

An official federal investigation into Hunter Biden's business started in 2018 after a tax inquiry evolved into a bigger probe looking into whether he had not only paid enough taxes on his income, but had maybe violated other federal laws.

According to federal law, anyone doing political, public relations or lobbying work for foreign clients must register themselves with the government under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). What's unclear is whether Hunter Biden was doing lobbying work with foreign companies.

Another issue investigators are looking into, unrelated to Hunter Biden's business, has to do with firearms regulations.

Prosecutors are assessing whether Joe Biden's second son violated federal laws by purchasing a firearm while he was struggling with substance abuse, an issue he has openly talked about.

In 2018, a firearm owned by Hunter Biden was tossed by his girlfriend into a dumpster in Wilmington, CNN reported. At that time, according to what Hunter Biden said, he was struggling with drug addiction.

Under federal law, anyone who uses or is addicted to illegal drugs is banned from purchasing firearms.

What Could the Charges Against Him Be?

Robert Weissman, president of the think tank Public Citizen, told Newsweek in April he didn't anticipate that Hunter Biden would face federal charges over his business arrangements.

Being convicted of money laundering in the U.S. can bring a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and fines of $500,000, or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction.

The penalty for a "wilful" FARA violation is imprisonment for no longer than five years and a fine of up to $250,000, or both. Violations considered misdemeanors carry a penalty of no longer than six months in prison and a fine of no more than $5,000, or both.

While Weissman told Newsweek he believed it's unlikely Hunter Biden will be charged with money laundering and a FARA violation, he said it's possible he could be held personally liable for tax compliance.

A sentence for tax evasion could bring a fine of no more than $100,000 or imprisonment for no more than five years.

Newsweek has reached out to representatives of Hunter Biden for comment.

Hunter Biden
Hunter Biden attends the Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House on April 18, 2022, in Washington, DC. Federal investigators are weighing possible charges against him, according to reports. Drew Angerer/Getty Images