Controversial anti-virus software mogul John McAfee has been indicted in New York on charges of fraud and money laundering linked to two fraudulent cryptocurrency schemes.
The tech millionaire and his bodyguard Jimmy Gale Watson Jr were charged in Manhattan federal court over schemes that promoted the digital currencies to investors.
The pair exploited McAfee’s large Twitter following to tout cryptocurrencies and digital tokens which they later sold when prices rose on the promotions, according to the US Department of Justice and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
McAfee is currently being held in Spain on separate charges of tax evasion. Watson, an executive adviser of McAfee’s so-called cryptocurrency team, was arrested on Thursday night, the Justice Department said.
Court documents allege that McAfee and Watson looked to tap into the tech tycoon’s “broad reach” on social media by buying cryptocurrency assets, concealing a plan to liquidate them and then selling most quickly after his endorsements boosted prices.
The charges are the latest controversy to hit the British-born tech entrepreneur, who was arrested in Spain last year after he allegedly failed to file tax returns despite earning millions from the cryptocurrency promotions, as well as speaking engagements and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary.
McAfee faces extradition to the US and up to 30 years in prison on those charges.
The outspoken tech titan has launched two unsuccessful attempts to become the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate, while he has also been vocal in his disdain for taxes.
McAfee also hit the headlines in 2012 when he was named as a person of interest in a police investigation into the murder of his neighbour in Belize.
He fled the country, saying he was concerned about his own safety, but has always denied any involvement in the killing.