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Crypto Witch-Hunt: Experts Criticize DOJ For ‘Bitcoin Jesus’ Indictment

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On Tuesday, the crypto industry was shaken after news of the indictment of one of a Bitcoin early investors broke. Per the reports, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) pressed multiple charges against Roger Ver, a controversial figure in the space known as “Bitcoin Jesus.”

Experts and figures within the community have expressed their sentiments about Ver’s arrestment, with some considering the US administration is on a “crypto witch-hunt.”

Was Roger Ver’s Indictment Celebrated?

On April 30, Roger Ver was detained by Spanish authorities on charges of tax evasion, mail fraud, and false tax returns. The indictment came the same day as former Binance CEO Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao’s four-month sentence.

The prosecutors allege that Ver, who renounced his US citizenship in 2014, failed to report the gains from Bitcoin sales held by his US companies and consequently failed to pay the required taxes.

As a result, the “Bitcoin Jesus” is now being accused of causing a $48 million loss to the IRS, and the US is seeking his extradition from Spain.

After the news, several crypto experts and community members commented on the charges, some considering it a “good” thing. Bitcoin educator and investor Dan Held was among those who “celebrated” the detention.

Breaking: Roger Ver Charged With Mail Fraud, Tax Evasion, And Filing False Tax Returns, Wanted For Extradition To the United States: U.S. Department of Justice

Good. He's been a net negative for Bitcoin.

— Dan Held (@danheld) April 30, 2024

In an X post, Held stated that Roger Ver has “been a negative for Bitcoin.” To the investor, Ver “misaligned expectations around Bitcoin so much that it led to a civil war. He deserves everything that he’s about to get.”

Some members of the crypto community partially agreed with Held’s sentiment. One X user considers Ver responsible for attempting to destroy Bitcoin during the “Blocksize War.”

DOJ Faces Backlash For “Overreaching” And Unclear Crypto Landscape

Overall, the sentiment leans against Roger Ver’s prosecution. To many, the DOJ’s actions are part of the US government’s efforts to target the crypto industry. 2024 US House candidate Jane Adams called the indictment “a blatant attack on dissent,” adding that the US administration’s “pursuit is fueled by vindictiveness, not justice.”

Similarly, founder and CEO of Layer Two Labs Paul Sztorc also expressed his concern: “Not exactly government via the consent of the governed…,” he stated in an X post.

According to crypto investor and expert Kim Dotcom, the charges against Ver “has nothing to do with tax evasion.” Instead, the crypto veteran considers that the US government is on a witch-hunt, “a malicious attempt to vilify Roger and to punish him for exposing and opposing the crimes of the US empire.”

Roger Ver, one of the earliest Bitcoin investors was arrested in Spain for alleged tax evasion and the US Govt is seeking his extradition. The US DOJ claims that Roger under-reported the value of his Bitcoin holdings when he gave up his US citizenship in ‘2014’.

At that time…

— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 1, 2024

The investor argues that at the time of the Bitcoin sales used for the indictment, the crypto industry was “the wild west of investing.” As a result, there were no clear regulations and guidance on the cryptocurrency’s legal status:

How do you assess the value of such an illiquid asset back in 2014? To now claim, a decade later, that Roger owes $50 million in taxes to the US Govt is ludicrous (…) It’s also a hopeless attempt to attach a value to something that was trading in a fragile, volatile and unregulated market in 2014.

The crypto community has widely discussed the US’s unclear and inconsistent regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. Consensys’ recent demand against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) highlighted the contradictory guidance from the country’s regulators.

These contradictions have caused US congress members like Patrick McHenry to consider the SEC’s efforts to regulate “by enforcement” to be driven by an “arbitrary and capricious nature.” Ultimately, it urges “a clear regulatory framework and robust consumer protections for digital asset markets.”

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