John McAfee, founder of the once highly used digital security software of the same now, had in recent years become a cryptocurrency evangelist. While he did earn notoriety in his new avatar, he has now been accused of tax evasion by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and been arrested in Spain. He is awaiting extradition, said the DOJ.
As per the complaint:
“From at least November 2017 through February 2018, McAfee leveraged his fame to make more than $23.1 million U.S. Dollars (“USD”) in undisclosed compensation by recommending at least seven “initial coin offerings” or ICOs to his Twitter followers. The ICOs at issue involved the offer and sale of digital asset securities and McAfee’s recommendations were materially false and misleading for several reasons.”
For years, McAfee has had a controversial association with the law. Although, it is unclear which run-ins are real and what has been forged. McAfee was a 2020 US Presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party when he claimed that the campaign was “in exile” after he was charged with “using cryptocurrencies in criminal acts against the U. S. Government”. In the same video, he also stated that he hasn’t paid taxes in eight long years.
The Tax Evasion by McAfee Appears to be Real
The full indictment alleges that McAfee dodged taxes through various means, like using other people’s names — directing payments towards bank accounts, cryptocurrency accounts, real estate, a yacht, and another unnamed type of vehicle, none of them in his own name. McAfee is also being accused of willfully failing to file tax returns from 2014 through 2018. If convicted, he shall face up to five years in prison for each of the five counts of tax evasion, and up to one year in prison for each of the five counts when he failed to file a tax return.
McAfee has also been sued by The Securities and Exchange for not disclosing that he was paid to promote initial coin offerings (ICOs) on Twitter from December 2018 to January 2018, despite being paid more than $23 million (allegedly) in Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency Ether to do so. He did put a public price on his promotions of $105,000 per tweet later. His bodyguard was also charged for his participation in the scheme. The full complaint by the SEC can be read here.
Intel briefly owned the McAfee cybersecurity company, but decided to phase out the McAfee brand because of the associations with John McAfee in 2014. Eventually, the company was spun back out of Intel as McAfee in 2017.