‘Bitcoin Jesus’ Arrested in Spain, Charged with Tax Fraud

News | May 16, 2024 By:

On Tuesday, April 30, 2024, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Roger Ver, an early investor in Bitcoin and blockchain technology, had been charged with mail fraud, tax evasion, and filing false tax returns.

Ver, who is also known as “Bitcoin Jesus” due to his enthusiastic promotion of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, allegedly failed to report capital gains and pay taxes he owed after renouncing his U.S. citizenship in 2014. According to documents unsealed by prosecutors, Ver was the owner of two tech companies called MemoryDealers.com Inc. and Agilestar.com Inc. that he used to purchase a large amount of bitcoin starting in 2011 when the price of bitcoin was much lower.

By the time Ver renounced his U.S. passport, it is claimed he controlled over 131,000 bitcoins personally and through his firms, which were worth around $115 million based on market prices at the time. However, Ver is accused of providing false information to his lawyers and an appraiser, drastically underreporting the value of his bitcoin holdings and companies on expatriation tax forms. Prosecutors say U.S. law required Ver to pay capital gains taxes on the implied sale of all his worldwide assets when he ceased being a citizen.

In the following years, as the price of bitcoin increased dramatically, the indictment alleges Ver took possession of over 70,000 bitcoins still owned by his companies. He then reportedly sold tens of thousands of these cryptocurrencies in 2017 for approximately $240 million. However, Ver did not inform his accountants of this distribution and sale, according to officials, skipping out on more taxes.

The Justice Department claims that by failing to declare multiple Bitcoin transactions and capital gains over the years, Ver avoided paying an estimated $48 million in taxes owed to the IRS. He was arrested last month in Spain and faces extradition to stand trial in the U.S. on charges of mail fraud, tax evasion, and filing false returns. If convicted, Ver could face substantial fines and prison time.