Antiguan citizen charged for tax fraud

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

Editor’s Note: Roger Ver acquired his Antigua and Barbuda citizenship through the CBI program. He is also a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis. Roger owned and operated Pay Antigua and was once tipped to be non-resident ambassador in Japan. He was instrumental in installing several Bitcoin Cash ATM’s across the twin-island nation.

In August 2020, the Cabinet confirmed Ver’s Antigua citizenship: “Mr. Roger Ver is a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda by way of the Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) and has already demonstrated his commitment to Antigua and Barbuda, where he intends to maximize the use of the legislation in order to begin building Antigua and Barbuda’s market presence in this new drive to strengthen another sector in the Antigua and Barbuda economy.

The Justice Department unveiled criminal tax fraud charges this week against a prolific bitcoininvestor named Roger Ver. He came to be known as “Bitcoin Jesus,” for getting in early on the digital currency and making a fortune.

Ver allegedly evaded at least $48 million in taxes, according to the indictment announced Tuesday.

The indictment, filed in California federal court, claims that Ver executed the fraud scheme by failing to report a portion of the 131,000 bitcoin that he owned in 2014, when he renounced his U.S. citizenship after becoming a citizen of the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

At the time, each bitcoin was worth roughly $871. It was trading Wednesday morning at $57,416, which would make Ver’s 131,000 bitcoins worth more than $7.5 billion.

Becoming a U.S. expat requires an individual to pay a special tax to the Internal Revenue Service. The DOJ alleges that in preparing those tax filings, Ver underrepresented his bitcoin holdings and evaded taxes on them.

The indictment further alleges that even after his expatriation from the U.S., Ver continued to underreport his bitcoin ownership, which he was still required to pay U.S. taxes on.

Ver was arrested in Spain over the weekend. The United States is seeking his extradition to face trial on eight counts related to tax evasion, mail fraud and filing false tax returns.

“At this time, I can say that we are very disappointed and surprised that Mr. Ver was arrested while traveling in Spain. This prosecution never should have been brought,” Bryan Skarlatos, a lawyer for Ver, told CNBC in a statement. “Mr. Ver relied on leading tax professionals to help him report his Bitcoin and he always intended to fully comply with his US tax obligations. We look forward to establishing his innocence in court, if necessary.”

If convicted, Ver’s felony charges could see him return to federal prison, where he spent 10 months in 2002 after pleading guilty to selling explosives called “Pest Control Report 2000” on eBay.

As bitcoin has boomed and busted over the past decade, the government has begun to pay more attention to possible financial crimes associated with the digital currency. The IRS has worked to get more sophisticated in tracking bitcoin investors as the currency has gone more mainstream.

According to the indictment, the IRS used a strategy called “clustering analysis” to track the blockchain and identify Ver’s bitcoin transactions.

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