California man, 45, who called himself ‘Bitcoin Jesus’ is arrested on fraud and tax evasion charges

  • Roger Ver, nicknamed ‘Bitcoin Jesus,’ is nailed on alleged tax evasion and fraud
  • He allegedly owes millions to the IRS after selling $240 million worth of bitcoin
  • Ver was arrested in Spain and authorities plan to extradite him back to California 

Roger Ver, who allegedly raked in millions of dollars selling his stash of Bitcoin, was arrested in Spain this weekend for fraud charges and ducking capital gains taxes.

The Department of Justice’s indictment claims California-born Ver didn’t report the capital gains he made from selling tens of thousands of bitcoins in 2017, allegedly netting him $240 million and losing the US Treasury $48 million in tax money.

Ver, 45, calls himself ‘Bitcoin Jesus,’ and his high-flying social media pages makes clear why he bestowed himself the self-righteous nickname. 

He’s dedicated to evangelizing about cryptocurrency’s potential to change the world and lessen people’s reliance on government issued currency like the U.S. dollar. 

His days of jetting around the world to glamorous cities and yachting around Caribbean islands to spread the good word of Bitcoin has now come to abrupt halt.

Roger Ver, the so called ‘Bitcoin Jesus’ on a yacht in St. Barts, a Caribbean island that’s become a frequent haven for millionaires and billionaires
Ver, right, seen in St. Kitts promoting Bitcoin Cash, an offshoot of the original Bitcoin
Ver has a loyal fanbase on social media and just released a book six weeks ago
Ver used to be a resident of Santa Clara and Honolulu

Days before he was indicted for mail fraud, tax evasion and submitting false tax returns, Ver wrote a cryptic message on X: ‘Don’t expect bad people to do good things.’ 

It’s not clear who he was talking about in the post, though he’s likely not talking about himself. 

The crypto ‘Jesus’ calls himself the world’s ‘first investor in Bitcoin and Blockchain startups’ – and often posts lavish photos online of him talking at conferences, meeting clients on yachts in exotic locations, and bragging about his wealth. 

He has also amassed a loyal fanbase, with just shy of 70,000 Instagram followers. 

Just six weeks ago, he bragged about his new ‘bestselling’ bitcoin book hit the shelves, called ‘Hijacking Bitcoin: The hidden history of BTC.’  

Ver does have a criminal history, previously pleading guilty and serving a 10-month prison sentence for selling explosives on eBay in 2002.

Authorities seek to extradite Ver, who’s most recent residence was in Tokyo, from Spain and back to the US to stand trial.

Ver used to be a resident of Santa Clara, California, living in a home there from 2004 to 2014 that is worth $3.5 million.

While in Santa Clara, the indictment says Ver owned two computer equipment companies companies, Inc. and Inc., and began acquiring bitcoin for himself and the companies in 2011.

Ver allegedly failed to pay a so-called exit tax on capital gains after he renounced his citizenship
Ver, second from the right, is pictured in Dubai. He calls himself the world’s first investor in Bitcoin and Blockchain startups
Pictured: Ver’s old home in Santa Clara, California, which is now worth $3.5 million
Ver left Santa Clara in 2014 to live in St. Kitts, and allegedly renounced his US citizenship in the process
Ver, seated back right, in Tokyo, where his last known residence was, according to the indictment

Ver then left the rich Silicon Valley city for the Caribbean island of St. Kitts and Nevis, allegedly obtaining citizenship there on February 4, 2014. Shortly after, Ver supposedly renounced his citizenship in a process called expatriation.

Expatriated individuals, even though they aren’t citizens anymore, are required under U.S. law to file tax returns that report capital gains from the sale of ‘world-wide assets’, including sales of bitcoins, and to report the fair market value of any and all assets that are still in one’s possession.

The indictment says that Ver, if expatriated, was required to pay what’s called an ‘exit tax’ on any capital gains.

Ver and his companies allegedly owned 131,000 bitcoins – then worth $871 each – by February 4, 2014, the day he underwent expatriation, according to the indictment. 

His companies purportedly owned 73,000 bitcoins, around 55 percent of his total holdings.

Where Ver began to go wrong, according to the indictment, is when he hired a law firm and an appraiser to assist with the tax issues related to him renouncing his US citizenship.

Pictured: Ver with his trademark Bitcoin Cash shirt in Tokyo
By allegedly undervaluing his companies and not reporting his own personal stash of bitcoin, Ver was able to sell $240 million worth of bitcoin in 2017 tax free, the indictment claims
Ver, right, standing next to a recently installed bitcoin ATM, machines where you can buy and sometimes sell the cryptocurrency
Street view images of the Honolulu apartment building Ver used to live in from 2007 to 2014

Ver allegedly ‘provided false or misleading information to the law firm and appraiser that concealed the true number of bitcoins he and his companies owned.’

The indictment claims that based on what Ver told them, the firm filed false tax returns undervaluing the two companies’ bitcoin holdings, while also not reporting that Ver owned bitcoin personally.

Three years later, the indictment accuses Ver of selling tens of thousands of his companies’ bitcoin holdings on crypto exchanges, making him $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,’ the indictment read.

After the alleged sale, the indictment accuses Ver of concealing it from his accountant, which led to his 2017 income tax return not reporting the massive bitcoin sale.

Ver owes the IRS $48 million, according to the indictment.

If convicted on all eight charges against him, Ver could face a maximum sentence of just under 80 years in federal prison.

It isn’t clear if prosecutors from the Central District of California will extend Ver a plea agreement or if Ver would agree to one.

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