Roger Ver arrested for tax fraud while promoting Bitcoin book

Less than four weeks ago, Roger Ver published his version of Bitcoin’s 2015-2017 blocksize wars. In Ver’s first full-length book, Hijacking Bitcoin, he attempted to question the Blockstream-led narrative of the user-activated soft fork that ostensibly saved Bitcoin from the miner-activated soft fork proposal of big blockers like Ver, Gavin Andresen, Mike Hearn, Calvin Ayre, Jihan Wu, and Craig Wright.

A few days later, authorities arrested Ver in Spain for unrelated tax fraud.

The unfortunate sequence of events continues something of a trend in Ver’s life. His idealism has frequently led to encounters with law enforcement. In 2002, for example, he spent 10 months in prison for selling prohibited items (mainly firecrackers) via eBay.

Another detention center stay for Roger Ver

According to a newly unsealed indictment this month, Ver allegedly defrauded the US out of more than $48 million. According to the IRS, “he concealed and provided false information to his various advisors regarding the number and value of bitcoins he owned and controlled both personally and through his companies.”

Spanish authorities arrested Ver this month and are detaining him pending extradition proceedings to the US court system.

The US Justice Department (DoJ) will seek to try him in a federal courthouse for his criminal charges. In addition to demanding payment of overdue taxes plus penalties, authorities will seek a prison sentence. In national criminal proceedings, discretion is given to a federal judge to decide the ultimate terms of punishment.

As the predecessor of modern-day celebrities like Michael Saylor, Ver was Bitcoin’s most prominent spokesperson prior to 2017.

The Gospel of Bitcoin Jesus

For Ver (a.k.a. Bitcoin Jesus), Bitcoin was primarily a freedom technology — a tool in his arsenal of other self-sovereign tools like privacy tools, crisis gear, home fortifications, and guns.

Ver wanted Bitcoin’s blocksize to increase so that data storage for everyday commerce transactions would be affordable and fast. In his new book, he argues that he doesn’t regret championing the Bitcoin Cash version of Bitcoin, even though he’s widely viewed as the loser of the blocksize war.

Eventually, Ver began arguing that Bitcoin should fork its consensus node software to increase its block data storage size. Specifically, he advocated for a large data version of Bitcoin that still operates today, Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Fast forward to today, and BCH has a 99.3% smaller market capitalization than bitcoin (BTC)

Defeated, he retired from his media career and lived a quieter life in the Caribbean. “I absolutely made a deliberate decision to do less media stuff,” he admitted. “That civil war is kind of over now.”

This month, he was traveling in Spain. Law enforcement arrested him and are holding him in a Spanish detention center.

Ex-Blockstream executive is not celebrating this week’s indictment.

Read more: Duke Roger Ver becomes finance minister for Joseon

Ver’s alleged tax fraud

According to the DoJ, Ver illegally reduced his tax liability by transferring ownership of his bitcoin to several companies in order to evade an ‘exit tax’ requirement prior to renouncing his US citizenship. That scheme failed. Simply shuffling assets to one’s own companies and claiming not to own those assets as of a snapshot date for tax purposes is classic tax fraud. Worse, Ver wrote down his plans for this type of scheme in an email, which law enforcement obtained as evidence against him.

The DoJ also alleges that Ver provided or caused to be provided false and misleading tax information to his attorney.

On Ver’s expatriation-related tax returns (IRS forms 1040NR and 8854), his attorney didn’t report that Ver owned any bitcoin personally as of March 2, 2014 when Ver furnished his statement of voluntary relinquishment of US Citizenship to a US consulate. 

To make things even worse, Ver’s attorney incorrectly dated his expatriation to February 3 rather than the true March 2 date.

It’s fine to legally avoid taxes, but evading taxes is a crime. Once again, Roger Ver is arrested and unless he strikes a plea deal, a jury will determine whether he is guilty of tax evasion.

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