NEW YORK – Antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee has been charged with fraud and money laundering conspiracy, alleging he and his cohorts have made more than $ 13 million deceiving zealous investors in the emerging crypto market -currencies, authorities said on Friday.
McAfee, 75, was indicted in a newly unsealed indictment in Manhattan federal court with Jimmy Gale Watson Jr., who served as executive advisor on what prosecutors described as the “so-called team of cryptocurrency ”from McAfee.
Prosecutors said Watson, 40, was arrested Thursday night in Texas and will appear for the first time on Friday before a federal judge in Dallas. McAfee, authorities say, is being held in Spain on separate criminal charges filed by the US Department of Justice’s tax division.
Lawyer 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 not the right place to debate whether advanced technologies like cryptocurrencies are securities, commodities or something else.”
It was not immediately clear who could represent McAfee. There was still no lawyer registered for him in federal court in Memphis, Tennessee, where tax charges were filed against him in October.
“McAfee and Watson have harnessed a widely used social media platform and the enthusiasm of investors in the emerging cryptocurrency market to earn millions through lies and deception,” said US lawyer Audrey Strauss in a statement describing the crimes committed in 2017 and 2018.
“The 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 to cover up their true self-interested motives,” she said. added.
In October, McAfee was indicted in Tennessee for tax evasion after failing to report the income generated by promoting cryptocurrencies while doing consultancy work, taking 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 sought after by authorities in the United States and Belize in the past.
The Tennessee indictment states that McAfee did not file tax returns from 2014 to 2018, despite receiving “significant income” from multiple sources.
In July 2019, McAfee was released from detention in the Dominican Republic after he and five others were suspected of traveling on a yacht carrying large caliber weapons, ammunition and military-style equipment, told the era of the makers of the Caribbean island.