Antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee has been charged with fraud and conspiracy to launder money, alleging he and his cohorts made more than $13 million by misleading zealous investors in the emerging cryptocurrency market , authorities said on Friday.
McAfee, 75, was charged in a newly unsealed indictment in Manhattan federal court with Jimmy Gale Watson Jr., who served as an executive adviser to what prosecutors described as the “so-called cryptocurrency” from McAfee.
Prosecutors said Watson, 40, was arrested Thursday night in Texas and will make a first appearance Friday before a federal magistrate in Dallas. McAfee, authorities said, is being held in Spain on separate criminal charges filed by the US Justice Department’s tax division.
Attorney Arnold Spencer, representing Watson, said his client was a decorated former Navy Seal.
“He fought for the rights and freedoms of others, and he has the right and looks forward to his day in court to exercise some of those rights,” he said in an email.
“Criminal indictments are blunt instruments, not precise scalpels,” Spencer added. “This is the wrong place to debate whether cutting-edge technologies like cryptocurrencies are securities, commodities, or something else.”
It was not immediately clear who might represent McAfee. There was still no registered attorney for him in federal court in Memphis, Tennessee, where tax charges were filed against him in October.
“McAfee and Watson leveraged a widely used social media platform and the enthusiasm of investors in the emerging cryptocurrency market to make millions through lies and deception,” said U.S. attorney Audrey Strauss in a statement describing the crimes committed in 2017 and 2018.
“Defendants allegedly used McAfee’s Twitter account to post messages to hundreds of thousands of its Twitter followers touting various cryptocurrencies through false and misleading statements in order to conceal their true self-interested motives,” she said. added.
In October, McAfee was charged in Tennessee with tax evasion after he failed to report income from promoting cryptocurrencies while doing consulting work, speaking engagements and selling the rights to the story. of his life for a documentary.
McAfee developed the first Internet security software and has been wanted by authorities in the United States and Belize in the past.
The Tennessee indictment said McAfee failed to file tax returns from 2014 to 2018, despite having “significant income” from multiple sources.
In July 2019, McAfee was released from detention in the Dominican Republic after he and five other people were suspected of traveling on a yacht carrying large-caliber weapons, ammunition and military-style equipment, the AFP said. era of Caribbean island officials.