According to information from the news agency Reuters, the US entrepreneur John McAfee was arrested in Spain. The 75-year-old is facing an extradition request from the US government. He is accused of tax evasion and the solicitation of unregistered securities. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the US Department of Justice have issued indictments against McAfee following his arrest.
The SEC accuses McAfee of having advertised several initial coin offers on Twitter. In doing so, he had failed to inform his followers that he had received money for them. According to the SEC, McAfee thus violated the US Federal Securities Act. The charges relate to seven ICOs whom McAfee is alleged to have illegally advertised.
The ICOs advertised by McAfee raised at least about $41 million, and McAfee earned about $23.2 million as secret compensation for his calls. When asked directly whether he was paid for these promotions, McAfee lied to investors by falsely denying that he was paid by the issuers,
McAfee allegedly misled Twitter followers
He is also alleged to have deliberately misled his Twitter followers by providing false information about his involvement in the projects he promoted.
McAfee falsely claimed to be an investor and/or technical advisor when recommending several ICOs, thereby creating the impression that he had vetted these companies, that they benefited from his technical expertise and that he was willing to invest his own money in the projects. In reality, McAfee’s tweets were paid promotions disguised as impartial investment advice.
The SEC classifies most tokens as securities. Their sale to Americans is therefore strictly regulated – like a classic IPO of a company.
Up to 30 years imprisonment for tax evasion
McAfee is also alleged to have evaded taxes – an accusation that the IT entrepreneur is facing not for the first time. The US Department of Justice published an indictment in October, which was prepared in June and kept under wraps until his arrest.
However, the DoJ accuses him of two things. He is accused of having generated a multi-million-dollar income in the period 2014 to 2018 and of having cheated the treasury of its share. He is said to have concealed his assets through bank accounts and crypto stock exchange accounts belonging to confidants. McAfee is also said to have withheld material assets such as real estate and a yacht from the US tax authorities. McAfee is alleged to have been guilty of tax evasion in a total of five cases. He is threatened with a maximum prison sentence of five years per case.
The fact that McAfee did not file a tax return during this period is the second charge of the DoJ. The law provides for a maximum penalty of one year per wilfully „missed tax return“. Both charges may be accompanied by fines.