The allegations became a flashpoint in Congress last summer when Republicans demanded that the FBI release the unredacted form documenting the allegations as investigations into Biden and his family continued. They acknowledged at the time that it was unclear whether the allegations were true.

Prosecutors say that although Smirnov claimed to have had contact with Burisma executives near the end of the Obama administration, it actually took place after Obama and Biden left office, when Biden would have had no ability to influence US policy.

“In summary, the defendant transformed his routine and extraordinary business contacts with Burisma in 2017 and thereafter into bribery accusations against Public Official 1, the alleged candidate of one of the two major political parties for president, after expressing bias against the official public 1 and his candidacy,” the accusation says.

He repeated some of the false claims when interviewed by FBI agents in September 2023, changed his story about others and “promoted a new false narrative after saying he met with Russian officials,” prosecutors said.

Smirnov, 43, was charged with making a false statement and creating a false and fictitious record. An attorney for him was not immediately listed in court records. He was expected to make an initial court appearance in Las Vegas, where he was arrested Wednesday after arriving from abroad, prosecutors said.

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

The charges were brought by Justice Department special counsel David Weiss, who separately accused Hunter Biden of tax violations and firearms possession.

By Sam