top of page
  • L Higgins

Render unto Caesar: Roger Ver faces tax reckoning

The United States has charged Roger Ver, an early investor in bitcoin (BTC), with a string of alleged financial sins. Ver, who once received the moniker "Bitcoin Jesus” as an early evangelist for the cryptocurrency, was arrested in Spain, accused of mail fraud, tax evasion, and filing false tax returns. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is now seeking his extradition for trial, turning his story into a modern-day parable of fiscal reckoning.

The indictment alleges that Ver, formerly of Santa Clara, California, owned two companies that sold computer and networking equipment. From 2011 onwards, he allegedly acquired some 131,000 BTC for himself and his companies. Given his prominent role in spreading the gospel of BTC, Ver's financial dealings came under scrutiny.

In 2014, Ver obtained citizenship in St. Kitts and Nevis and renounced his U.S. citizenship, triggering tax obligations. However, Ver is alleged to have provided misleading information understating his BTC holdings and evading taxes, with the DOJ claiming a loss of at least USD$48 million to the IRS. The DOJ also claims Ver failed to follow a commandment to pay "exit tax" upon renouncing his citizenship of the US in a process called expatriation. This "exit tax" is similar to that of Australia's capital gains tax (CGT) event which applies when a resident ceases being a tax resident of Australia: the departing person is deemed to have disposed of all of their CGT assets at that time.

The DOJ further alleges that in 2017, Ver sold several thousand BTC yet did not inform the IRS about the gains he had made, despite the fact that the BTC was actually held by US-based corporations of his - Agilestar and MemoryDealers. The DOJ alleges that exchange info indicates Ver sold that portion of BTC for a biblical sum of USD$240 million.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg and U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada announced the charges. The IRS Criminal Investigation's cybercrimes unit is leading the investigation.

Ver earned the nickname "Bitcoin Jesus" many years ago by giving away cryptocurrency for free to those that were interested in the space. Following his ostensible fall from grace, many blockchain industry enthusiasts have been quick to call out the DOJ for targeting Ver an entire decade after he left the US. DavidShares, a promiment BTC proponent on X, commented that Ver's arrest was part of a larger crypto targeting strategy by the US (a sentiment echoed by blockchain enthusiasts):

Once lauded (albeit as a meme) as a messiah, Ver now faces earthly reckoning for his alleged taxation missteps. His arrest in Spain signals that the US DOJ and IRS will aggressively pursue personal accountability in the cryptocurrency realm. As the DOJ seeks his extradition, Ver's tale serves as a cautionary reminder that only two things in life are certain ... death and taxes, with even Jesus not defeating both.

Written by Luke Higgins, Steven Pettigrove and Michael Bacina


bottom of page