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Press Release

Early Bitcoin Investor Charged with Tax Fraud

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
Man Known as “Bitcoin Jesus” Evaded Nearly $50M in Taxes

An indictment was unsealed yesterday charging Roger Ver, an early investor in bitcoins, with mail fraud, tax evasion and filing false tax returns. Ver was arrested this weekend in Spain based on the U.S. criminal charges. The United States will seek Ver’s extradition to stand trial in the United States.

According to the indictment, Ver formerly of Santa Clara, California, owned Inc. and Inc., two companies that sold computer and networking equipment. Starting in 2011, Ver allegedly began acquiring bitcoins for himself and his companies. He also allegedly avidly promoted bitcoins, even obtaining the moniker “Bitcoin Jesus.”

On Feb. 4, 2014, Ver allegedly obtained citizenship in St. Kitts and Nevis and shortly thereafter renounced his U.S. citizenship in a process known as expatriation. As a result of his expatriation, Ver allegedly 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 was also allegedly required to pay a tax – referred to as an “exit tax” – on those capital gains. By Feb. 4, 2014, Ver and his companies allegedly owned approximately 131,000 bitcoins that traded on several large exchanges for around $871 each. MemoryDealers and Agilestar allegedly held approximately 73,000 of those bitcoins.

Ver allegedly hired a law firm to assist him with his expatriation and to prepare his expatriation-related tax returns. Ver also allegedly hired an appraiser to value his two companies. Ver allegedly provided or caused to be provided false or misleading information to the law firm and appraiser that concealed the true number of bitcoins he and his companies owned. As a result, the law firm allegedly prepared and filed false tax returns that substantially undervalued the two companies and their 73,000 bitcoins and did not report that Ver owned any bitcoins personally.

The indictment further alleges that by June 2017, Ver’s two companies continued to own approximately 70,000 bitcoins. Around that time, Ver allegedly took possession of those bitcoins and in November 2017 sold tens of thousands of them on cryptocurrency exchanges for approximately $240 million in cash. Even though Ver was not then a U.S. citizen, he was still legally required to report to the IRS and pay tax on certain distributions such as dividends from MemoryDealers and Agilestar, which were U.S. corporations. Ver allegedly concealed from his accountant that he had received and sold MemoryDealers’ and Agilestar’s bitcoins that year. As a result, Ver’s 2017 individual income tax return did not report any gain or pay any tax related to the distribution of MemoryDealers’ and Agilestar’s bitcoins to him.

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

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada for the Central District of California made the announcement.

IRS Criminal Investigation's cybercrimes unit is investigating the case.

Assistant Chief Matthew J. Kluge and Trial Attorney Peter J. Anthony of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney James. C. Hughes for the Central District of California are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated April 30, 2024

Press Release Number: 24-533