Bitcoin.com founder arrested in Spain on tax evasion charges

abdelaziz Fathi

Roger Ver, an early Bitcoin investor known as “Bitcoin Jesus,” has been arrested in Spain facing U.S. charges of evading $48 million in taxes. The U.S. Department of Justice announced the charges, which include mail fraud and tax evasion, following the unsealing of an indictment filed in Los Angeles.

Roger Ver arrested in Spain

Ver, aged 45, was taken into custody this past weekend in Spain. The indictment claims extensive tax-related misconduct linked to his massive Bitcoin assets. This follows after the U.S. Supreme Court turned down a related appeal by a law firm summoned for records related to Ver’s case.

Ver is the founder of Bitcoin.com, a crypto news and information site that provides a variety related services, including a media outlet, crypto casino and a mobile wallet for both of these cryptocurrencies.

The documents outline Ver’s early investments in Bitcoin back in 2011 and his aggressive promotion of the cryptocurrency, which earned him his nickname “Bitcoin Jesus.” Nicknamed later “Bitcoin Judas,” he’s best known for leading the creation of Bitcoin Cash, which emerged from a hard fork of Bitcoin in August 2017. In 2014, Ver dropped his U.S. citizenship, a move with hefty tax implications, right after securing citizenship in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Under U.S. tax law, giving up citizenship assumes a “constructive sale” of property, treating it as sold at its market value the day before renunciation. Prosecutors allege that at the time of his renunciation, Ver and his companies owned about 131,000 bitcoins, worth around $114 million.

The indictment charges Ver with misleading the law firm handling his taxes, leading to significantly undervalued assets and omitted personal cryptocurrency holdings. It also claims that in 2017, Ver sold 70,000 bitcoins for about $240 million through his companies, without paying the required taxes, leading to a $48 million tax gap from 2014 to 2017.

Ver’s attorney, Bryan Skarlatos, stated that Ver had relied on professional tax advice and aimed to fully comply with tax laws. The defense is gearing up to prove Ver’s innocence in court if needed.

The Justice Department is now seeking to extradite Ver back to the U.S. to stand trial on these charges.

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