John McAfee, who has built a fortune selling cybersecurity software and in recent years has become a cryptocurrency evangelist, has been indicted for tax evasion by the Department of Justice (DOJ). He was arrested in Spain and awaits extradition, the DOJ said.
McAfee has had a contentious association with the law for years, although it is sometimes difficult to know which incidents are real and what has been fabricated. A former 2020 US presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party (yes, really), he claimed the campaign was “in exile” after being charged with “using Crypto Cuttencies [sic] in criminal acts against the US government ” in january 2019. In that same video, he said he hadn’t paid taxes for eight years. (This will matter later.) He also claimed that the CIA “tried to get us back” in a tweet from July 2019 with a photo of him on a boat holding a rifle, part of an adventure that ended with his arrest and release in the Dominican Republic.
Full indictment released today (PDF) alleges McAfee dodged taxes through various means including using other people’s names – directing payments to bank accounts, cryptocurrency accounts , real estate, a yacht, and another type of unnamed vehicle, none of which was its own name. McAfee is also being indicted for willfully failing to file tax returns from 2014 to 2018. If convicted, McAfee faces up to five years in prison on each of the five counts of tax evasion. and up to one year in prison for each of the five accounts failing to file an income tax return.
The Securities and Exchange Commission also sued McAfee for failing to disclose that he was paid to promote Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) on Twitter from December 2018 to January 2018 when he was allegedly paid over $ 23 million. dollars in Bitcoin and Ether cryptocurrency to do so. . (McAfee would later put a public price on his promotions of $ 105,000 per tweet.) McAfee’s bodyguard was also billed for his participation in the scheme. You can read a PDF of the full SEC complaint here.
McAfee was also the subject of a 2016 Showtime documentary which suggested he paid a hitman to kill a neighbor while living in Belize in November 2012. You can read The Verge’s stories about this event here. And Intel, which briefly owned cybersecurity firm McAfee, said it would phase out the McAfee brand due to associations with John McAfee in 2014. The company was ultimately separated from Intel as McAfee in 2017.