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'Bitcoin Jesus' accused of $48 million in tax evasion related to the crypto currency

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Almost a year ago, the man dubbed Bitcoin Jesus because he made a fortune as an early advocate of the digital currency, was indicted on mail fraud, tax evasion, and filing false tax return charges.

We found out about the $48 million tax evasion and other charges this week when the Department of Justice (DoJ) unsealed the June 2023 indictment naming Roger Keith Ver. He was arrested in Spain based on the criminal charges, and U.S. law enforcement officials are seeking Ver’s extradition.

Roger_Ver-2016-photo-by-Ver-via-Wikipedia-Creative-Commons-1The indictment, announced by DoJ on April 30, alleges that Ver formerly of Santa Clara, California, owned two companies that sold computer and networking equipment. Starting in 2011, Ver allegedly began acquiring bitcoins for himself and his companies.

Officials say Ver became an expatriate after obtaining citizenship in the dual Caribbean island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis on Feb. 4, 2014. Even before officially surrendering his U.S. citizenship, Ver had moved to Japan in 2025.

Alleged expatriation tax evasion: As part of the U.S. expatriation process 10 years ago, Ver was required under U.S. law to file tax returns that reported capital gains from the constructive sale of his world-wide assets, including the bitcoins, and to report the fair market value of his assets.

He also was required to pay the associated exit tax on those capital gains.

This levy is calculated as if the departing U.S. citizen liquidated all of his or her worldwide assets on the day before expatriation, and then any hypothetical net gain from that amount (that is, the deemed liquidation amount minus the expatriate's asset basis) that exceeds a certain amount is taxed as capital gains.

The taxing threshold for 2024 expatriates' paper-only liquidations is to $866,000. That's the amount that can be excluded from the mark-to-market gain upon expatriation of a covered expatriate.

The DoJ says at the time of his 2014 expatriation, Ver and his companies allegedly owned approximately 131,000 bitcoins that traded on several large exchanges for around $871 each.

But officials charge that during the expatriation process, Ver “allegedly provided or caused to be provided false or misleading information … that concealed the true number of bitcoins he and his companies owned.”

As a result, Ver’s companies’ tax returns allegedly substantially undervalued the bitcoin. Investigators also allege that Ver did not report his personal ownership of any bitcoins.

Fast forward to June 2017, when IRS Criminal Investigation cybercrimes investigators allege that Ver’s two companies continued to own approximately 70,000 bitcoins. Ver allegedly took possession of those bitcoins and in November 2017, selling tens of thousands of them on cryptocurrency exchanges for approximately $240 million in cash.

Even though Ver was not then a U.S. citizen, the DoJ points out that he was still legally required to report to the IRS and pay tax on certain distributions such a dividends from the companies, which were U.S. corporations.

Cyber community support: Ver maintains an online presence. On April 25, five days before the indictment was unsealed, he obscure posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, “Don’t expect bad people to do good things.”

After news of the tax charges broke, his followers added their supportive comments to the post.

Many in the crypto community also criticized the U.S. government for Ver’s indictment. They contend he is being targeted as part of a broader anti-crypto stance by the Biden Administration.

One of Ver’s lawyers, Bryan Skarlatos, said in a statement that he was “very disappointed and surprised” by his client’s arrest while traveling in Spain.

“Mr. Ver relied on leading tax professionals to help him report his Bitcoin and he always intended to fully comply with his U.S. tax obligations. We look forward to establishing his innocence in court, if necessary,” Skarlatos said.

3tax felon friday_smallerTax Felon Friday: As Skarlatos indicated and the DoJ expressly stated in its announcement of the Ver charges, an indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

I’ll update this post if the Ver case goes to trial and he’s convicted or acquitted, or if, as Skarlatos seems to imply as a possibility, a settlement is reached in the case.

In the meantime, if you want to catch up on all sorts of tax misdeeds and miscreants, the ol' blogs' special Tax Felon Friday page is a good place to start.

More tax crime posts, notably those that were published long before I created this special end-of-week feature, are available in, what else, the tax crimes category. You'll find this post at the top of that collection right now, so just scroll down for more.

You also might find these items of interest:



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