Hunter Biden, a son of presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden, capitalized on a steady influx of suspicious multimillion-dollar foreign bank transfers before the Justice Department opened a criminal investigation in 2018 into whether he dodged federal taxes.
Senate Republicans laid out his network of shady beneficiaries, including oligarchs in Moscow and Ukraine and a tycoon linked to the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing, from 2014 to 2017. Their Sept. 18 report was based on suspicious activity reports filed with the Treasury Department’s financial crimes enforcement network. Lending institutions contact the agency when they suspect money laundering and/or tax evasion.
Transactions like Hunter Biden’s “can trigger such an investigation,” said Brett L. Tolman, a former U.S. attorney for Utah. “Typically it starts as money laundering or tax [evasion] but can expand.”
“The Treasury records acquired by the chairmen show potential criminal activity relating to transactions among and between Hunter Biden, his family, and his associates with Ukrainian, Russian, Kazakh and Chinese nationals,” said the report by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, and Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Hunter Biden disclosed the investigation Wednesday. He said his “tax affairs” are under scrutiny by the U.S. attorney for Delaware, and he denied any wrongdoing.
In 2018, suspicious activity reports on former Trump attorney Michael Cohen were leaked to the news media. The three reports detailed millions of dollars deposited in his shell company, Essential Consulting LLC. A year later, Essential was cited in the Justice Department’s narrative on his guilty plea to tax evasion and campaign finance violations.
Tony Bobulinski, a former Hunter Biden business partner turned whistleblower, spent hours with FBI agents in October. He publicly authenticated messages found in Hunter Biden’s discarded laptop computer at a Wilmington, Delaware, repair shop in 2019 and retrieved by the FBI.
One memo showed Mr. Biden demanding $10 million a year from a Chinese billionaire to “make introductions alone.” Another message talked of cutting in Joseph R. Biden for a 10% share in a multimillion-dollar China deal.
Andrew Weissmann, who led the Justice Department’s fraud division and was a senior prosecutor for special counsel Robert Mueller in his Russia probe, belittled the Hunter Biden investigation. Mr. Weissmann, now in private practice, is a persistent antagonist of President Trump and wants him placed under criminal investigation.
“To be filed under Palpable Irony,” Mr. Weissmann tweeted Wednesday. “DOJ criminal tax investigation into a Biden child, but not even a civil tax case into the hundred+ million that Trump owes the IRS.”
Mr. Weissmann said Delaware’s U.S. attorney cannot bring charges without the consent of the Justice Department’s tax division.
“DOJ’s alerting a person of potential charges is routine to give opportunity to be heard,” he said.
Suspicious activity reports involving Hunter Biden’s bank accounts include:
• $3.5 million in 2014 from Elena Baturina, a Russian oligarch close to President Vladimir Putin. The Senate report said she illegally gained money through her late husband’s corrupt reign as Moscow mayor.
• Hunter Biden’s 2014 appointment to the board of Burisma Holdings, owned by a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch, after Vice President Biden was named as the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine.
Over the years, Burisma sent more than $4 million to a Hunter Biden partnership and to him directly. His business partner, Devon Archer, who also sat on the board, has been convicted of fraud and is awaiting sentencing.
Burisma sent $1.4 million to Hunter Biden directly, half of that coming after Archer was arrested.
• Hunter Biden’s close business ties with Chinese billionaire Ye Jianming, beginning in 2011 when his father was vice president. Mr. Biden flew with the vice president on Air Force 2 to China in 2013.
Mr. Ye controlled CEFC China Energy Co., which wired $5 million to Hudson West LLC, jointly owned by Mr. Biden and Chinese investors. The next year, another $1 million arrived at Hudson West. Mr. Biden sent 20 wire transfers to his uncle James Biden totaling $1.3 million for consulting services.
James Biden’s wife refused to cooperate with the bank when it made inquiries, and the account was closed.
Mr. Ye was accused of corruption by the communist regime in 2018 and has been out of sight since.
“Hunter Biden has extensive connections to Chinese businesses and Chinese foreign nationals that are linked to the Communist government,” the Senate report said. “Those contacts bore financial fruit when his father was vice president and after he left office.”
Hunter Biden made his statement Wednesday as news media increased their inquiries about a federal probe first reported by Sinclair Broadcasting.
“I learned yesterday for the first time that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs,” Mr. Biden said. “I take this matter very seriously, but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.”