Sunday, December 10, 2023

Pictet ~ US president’s son Hunter Biden indicted on tax charges Grand jury …

US president’s son Hunter Biden indicted on tax charges Grand jury returns nine counts alleging failure to pay $1.4mn between 2016 and 2019

The US Department of Justice has charged Hunter Biden with nine federal tax offences, including tax evasion, adding to the legal troubles of the president’s son ahead of the 2024 election year. 
The indictment was handed down by a grand jury and filed in federal court in California by special counsel David Weiss, who was appointed by attorney-general Merrick Garland to probe Hunter Biden’s business dealings. 
Prosecutors say Hunter Biden failed to pay at least $1.4mn of federal taxes for the years between 2016 and 2019, a period that covered Joe Biden’s last year as vice-president and the start of his 2020 presidential campaign. 
The DoJ said Hunter Biden had “spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle rather than paying his tax bills”, and “wilfully failed” to pay taxes on time for four years, “despite having access to funds to pay some or all of these taxes”. 
“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, in short, everything but his taxes,” the indictment said.
It also said Hunter Biden had included “false business deductions” on his 2018 tax return to “reduce the very substantial tax liability he faced as of February 2020”. 
The indictment returned on Thursday is the second to hit Hunter Biden this year after the DoJ charged him with illegal gun possession in September. Hunter Biden had reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors earlier this year related to both the gun and tax probes, but it collapsed, paving the way for Weiss to bring the charges. 
The justice department said that if he is convicted on the tax offences, Hunter Biden could face a maximum of 17 years in prison. 
Thursday’s indictment will be a blow to President Biden as he seeks re-election in 2024, with just 37.6 per cent of Americans approving of his performance in office, according to the polling average. 
While his likely Republican opponent Donald Trump will be consumed by his own legal troubles, as he is facing 91 criminal charges in jurisdictions from Florida to New York, Georgia and Washington DC, the criminal proceedings against a close member of the president’s family could hurt the Democrat’s prospects. 
The White House referred questions about the tax charges to the DoJ and Hunter Biden’s representatives. 
Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden’s lawyer, said: “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.” 
Hunter Biden, who is 57, is Joe Biden’s second son from his first marriage and his only living son after the death of Beau Biden, the former attorney-general of Delaware. Hunter Biden has struggled with drug addiction and alcoholism at various stages of his life, but Joe Biden has always stood by his side.
Over the years, Hunter Biden has also had international business interests, including in Ukraine and China, that have been political liabilities for the US president, exposing him to attacks from Republicans. The new indictment comes ahead of an expected vote in the House of Representatives as early as next week to move ahead with an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden based on his family’s business dealings.

First Thing: Hunter Biden indicted on tax charges in new criminal case

Second set of charges against president’s son alleges he spent millions on ‘an extravagant lifestyle’ rather than paying his tax bills. Plus, the Golden Gate Bridge is finally getting a safety net

Good morning.

Hunter Biden has been indicted on nine tax charges in California. It is the second indictment against the president’s son, adding fuel to a scandal that Republicans have been seizing on in the lead-up to the 2024 election.

The charges follow federal charges in Delaware over allegations that Biden unlawfully obtained a revolver in October 2018 after falsely stating he was not using narcotic drugs.

The new charges include three felonies and six misdemeanor offenses. Biden faces a possible 17-year sentence if convicted.

“The defendant engaged 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,” the 56-page indictment said, adding that Biden “spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle rather than paying his tax bills”.

  • What does the indictment say? In 2018, the indictment said, Biden “spent more than $1.8m, including approximately $772,000 in cash withdrawals, approximately $383,000 in payments to women, approximately $151,000 in clothing and accessories” among other expenditures.

  • What has Biden said? His lawyers did not immediately respond to an inquiry and the White House declined to comment

Pictet to pay US authorities $123mn after helping clients evade tax

Swiss bank used pseudonyms and ‘sham’ corporate entities so clients could shield $5.6bn in assets

Swiss private bank Pictet has agreed to pay $123mn to US authorities after admitting to helping clients illegally shield more than $5.6bn of assets from tax in secret accounts from 2008 to 2014.
The Geneva-based bank, Switzerland’s oldest and most prestigious private money manager, on Monday entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice. It has agreed to co-operate fully with ongoing investigations into the clients in question and their accounts.
“Today [Pictet] admitted to actively helping US taxpayers use coded accounts, foreign trusts and entities, nominee beneficiaries and other deceits to conceal their income and assets abroad,” said acting deputy assistant attorney general Stuart M. Goldberg. “For this criminal conduct the bank will be paying nearly $122.9mn in restitution, disgorgement of fees and a financial penalty.”
Taxes worth over $50mn were avoided in 1,637 accounts as a result of the bank’s efforts, the DOJ said. 
A range of measures was used by the Swiss bank to help its clients avoid detection by US authorities, including pseudonyms, anonymous numbered accounts and accounts held in the name of “sham” corporate entities set up as fronts.
According to the DoJ, Pictet also provided services to divert and hold mail, to avoid account information being sent to the US, and offered clients preloaded credit cards issued by a third-party so the origin of funds could be hidden.
The DOJ said Pictet’s management — the bank’s secretive circle of eight partners, known as “the salon” — approved the client-relationships concerned and were aware of undeclared accounts.
In a statement on Monday, Pictet said that it was “pleased to have resolved this matter and will continue to take steps to ensure its clients meet their tax obligations.” 
Pictet currently manages assets of SFr638bn ($713bn) for wealthy clients and large institutions.
The bank said it had begun tackling tax evasion by its clients before US authorities publicly launched a crackdown on abuses in 2008 — with a particular focus on Switzerland — after leaked documents revealed UBS, the country’s largest bank, was shielding thousands of clients from paying their taxes. 
UBS admitted guilt and paid $780mn to US authorities in a deferred prosecution agreement in 2009. Other Swiss banks have followed suit over the years. 
“The agreement acknowledges Pictet began evaluating and enhancing its policies and practices for conducting business with US taxpayer clients in 2008 . . . It also recognises that the Group then took additional steps, beyond those required by US law, to promote the tax compliance of its US taxpayer clients,” Pictet said.
The settlement will not materially impact the bank’s capital position, it added.