FBI informant charged with lying about Bidens’ ties to Ukrainian firm

Alexander Smirnov charged over claims Joe and Hunter Biden received bribes from Kyiv-based Burisma.

Hunter Biden is the subject of a criminal probe by a Justice Department special counsel [File: Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo]

A former FBI informant has been charged with lying about United States President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s ties to a Ukrainian energy firm.

David Weiss, the special counsel leading a criminal probe into Hunter Biden, said on Thursday that a grand jury had indicted Alexander Smirnov on charges of making a “false statement” and “creating a false and fictitious record”.

Weiss said Smirnov, 43, was arrested at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, after returning to the US from abroad.

If convicted, Smirnov could face up to 25 years in prison.

“Despite repeated admonishments that he must provide truthful information to the FBI and that he must not fabricate evidence, the defendant provided false derogatory information” about the Bidens, prosecutors said in the indictment filed in federal court.

Smirnov claimed that Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of Kyiv-based Burisma, used his father’s name to solicit millions of dollars in bribes from the company.

Smirnov told the FBI that Burisma executives had said they hired Hunter Biden to “protect us, through his dad, from all kinds of problems” and that they paid Hunter and Joe Biden $5m each in 2015 or 2016, according to the indictment.

Republicans seized on Smirnov’s claims to accuse the Biden family of corruption and justify a US House of Representatives inquiry into the president’s impeachment.

Then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy cited bribery allegations made by a “trusted FBI informant” when he announced the impeachment inquiry into Biden last year.

Hunter Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said the indictment vindicated months of warnings that Republicans were engaging in conspiracy theories fuelled by people with political agendas.

“We were right and the air is out of their balloon,” Lowell said.

Hunter Biden, who was last year charged with tax evasion and firearms-related charges, sat on the board of Burisma from 2014 to 2019.

During some of that time, Joe Biden was vice president under former President Barack Obama.

Source: News Agencies