The U.S. Department of Justice’s Tax Division on Monday unsealed an indictment against antivirus software pioneer John McAfee in which the founder of cybersecurity firm McAfee was charged with a tax evasion scheme that involved the concealing of his assets by having his income be paid into cryptocurrency exchange and bank accounts under other people’s names.
In announcing the June 15 indictment, the DOJ said Monday that it unsealed the indictment following McAfee’s arrest in Spain, where he is awaiting extradition. McAfee was accused of, from 2014 to 2018, earning millions of dollars in income from promoting cryptocurrencies and other work but not filing tax returns.
If he is convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on each count of tax evasion and a maximum sentence of one year in prison on each count of willful failure to file a tax return, DOJ said, adding he also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.
Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged McAfee with promoting investments in initial coin offerings to his Twitter followers without disclosing that he was paid to do so. McAfee’s bodyguard, Jimmy Watson Jr., was also charged with participating in the alleged scheme, the SEC said.
In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan Monday, the SEC said McAfee promoted multiple ICOs on Twitter, allegedly pretending to be impartial and independent even though he was paid over $23 million in digital assets for the promotions.
When certain investors asked whether he was paid to promote the ICOs, McAfee allegedly denied receiving any compensation from the issuers, the SEC said.
The complaint also alleged that McAfee made other false and misleading statements, including a claim he had personally invested in some of the ICOs and that he was advising certain issuers.