Home » DOJ charges ‘Bitcoin Jesus’ with $48 million tax fraud, seeks extradition

DOJ charges ‘Bitcoin Jesus’ with $48 million tax fraud, seeks extradition

by NBC News

The Justice Department unveiled criminal tax fraud charges this week against a prolific bitcoin investor named Roger Ver. He came to be known as “Bitcoin Jesus,” for getting in early on the digital currency and making a fortune.

Ver allegedly evaded at least $48 million in taxes, according to the indictment announced Tuesday.

The indictment, filed in California federal court, claims that Ver executed the fraud scheme by failing to report a portion of the 131,000 bitcoin that he owned in 2014, when he renounced his U.S. citizenship after becoming a citizen of the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

At the time, each bitcoin was worth roughly $871. It was trading Wednesday morning at $57,416, which would make Ver’s 131,000 bitcoins worth more than $7.5 billion.

Becoming a U.S. expat requires an individual to pay a special tax to the Internal Revenue Service. The DOJ alleges that in preparing those tax filings, Ver underrepresented his bitcoin holdings and evaded taxes on them.

The indictment further alleges that even after his expatriation from the U.S., Ver continued to underreport his bitcoin ownership, which he was still required to pay U.S. taxes on.

Ver was arrested in Spain over the weekend. The United States is seeking his extradition to face trial on eight counts related to tax evasion, mail fraud and filing false tax returns.

“At this time, I can say that we are very disappointed and surprised that Mr. Ver was arrested while traveling in Spain. This prosecution never should have been brought,” Bryan Skarlatos, a lawyer for Ver, told CNBC in a statement. “Mr. Ver relied on leading tax professionals to help him report his Bitcoin and he always intended to fully comply with his US tax obligations. We look forward to establishing his innocence in court, if necessary.”

If convicted, Ver’s felony charges could see him return to federal prison, where he spent 10 months in 2002 after pleading guilty to selling explosives called “Pest…

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