Feds charge ‘Bitcoin Jesus’ with $50 million tax fraud

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The Justice Department announced on Tuesday it has charged Roger Ver, a well-known figure from the early days of Bitcoin, with mail fraud and filing false tax returns. In a press release announcing the charges, the agency said “Bitcoin Jesus” had evaded nearly $50 million in taxes—invoking a nickname that Ver acquired around 2010 due to his habit of gifting Bitcoins to those he met.

Ver, a California native, renounced his U.S. citizenship shortly after obtaining a passport from St. Kitts and Nevis in 2014. At the time, he framed the decision as a protest against U.S. government policies but it was widely regarded in crypto circles as part of an effort to avoid paying taxes on the sizable horde of Bitcoin he acquired when the cryptocurrency was still trading for a few dollars or less.

Despite renouncing his U.S. citizenship, the Justice Department said Ver was nonetheless required to pay an “exit tax” and to file returns stating his capital gains and the value of his assets.

According to an IRS indictment filed in Los Angeles, Ver worked with with a law firm to avoid reporting his personal holdings and to undervalue 73,000 Bitcoins owned by his companies. The indictment also says he sold tens of thousands in Bitcoin in 2017 for $240 million.

“In total, Ver is alleged to have caused a loss to the IRS of at least $48 million,” stated the Justice Department.

Ver, who was actively promoting crypto on social media as recently as April 25, was reportedly detained in Spain by U.S. authorities.

The new charges against Ver, which came as a shock to the online community known as Crypto Twitter, puts him in the company of several other figures from Bitcoin’s early days who have since run into criminal trouble.

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