Wednesday 12 May 2021 12:28 am

John McAfee close to bankruptcy as he fights crypto fraud charges

Computing legend John McAfee is close to bankruptcy as he battles lawmakers from his cell in a Spanish prison, his wife has revealed.

The 75-year-old was arrested and imprisoned near Barcelona seven months ago where he awaits extradition to face charges of cryptocurrency fraud and tax evasion.

His devoted wife Janice, with whom he speaks during allotted eight-minute phone calls 20 times per week, has revealed the legal bills they are racking up in an effort to form a defence against the charges has left their finances severely dwindling.

“Between the different lawyers fighting John’s case it has virtually bankrupted us,” she said.

“We’re running out of resources.”

Up until the arrest, the pair had been on the run from US authorities for years, flitting from country to country or taking to the high seas in their heavily-armed yacht – “The Freedom Boat”.

Tweeting about digital assets

Many specifics of the cryptocurrency fraud charges are, as yet, largely unclear. But it is understood the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) believe McAfee had been tweeting about digital assets he held in order to inflate their price.

The veteran programmer hinted earlier this year that it was his early involvement with the joke Dogecoin – a seven-year-old cryptocurrency heavily plugged on twitter and even Saturday Night Live by billionaire Elon Musk – that led to US authorities hunting him down on a string of charges.

READ MORE: Doge dumps hard as fans cash out after Elon Musk’s SNL debut

McAfee has been instructing lawyers from his cell throughout his imprisonment. But it is unsure how much longer he can continue to fight the charges, given the revelation about the couple’s finances.

“Fighting the US government is the most expensive endeavour John has taken on,” added Janice.

“What justice can be achieved when you’ve been bled dry before your day in court?”

Fans of the Gloucestershire-born businessman have been expressing concern for his welfare as they read into the tweets he regularly puts out, offering an insight not only into prison life but also his mind.

Struggles behind bars

In a moment of obvious melancholy, he recently hinted at his struggles behind bars.

“I have been imprisoned in Catalonia nearly seven months,” he said.

“I speak no Catalan and little Spanish so human contact is limited. There are no entertainments – no escape from loneliness, from emptiness, from myself.

“This has been the most trying period of my life.”

It was followed days later by further lament as he said: “I am almost 76 and have been in prison, without bail, for seven months. Not much for a younger man in his 40s or even 50s. But for me, it’s likely a significant percent of my remaining days on this earth.”

Recently, Janice – whom he married in 2013, moved to calm the concerns of well-wishers, saying simply that her husband of eight years was “hanging tough but anxious to get the hell out of there”.

According to files submitted to the Federal Court in Manhattan, McAfee and his personal bodyguard Jimmy Watson Junior are alleged to have been selling crypto assets once they had been able to inflate their prices. The files allege they also landed some £8m ($11m) from various fledgling cryptocurrency organisations as payments to promote the start-ups.

McAfee, however, slammed the accusations as “overblown” and insisted he was not guilty of any wrongdoing with cryptocurrencies.

It is unclear when a move to extradite to the US will take place.

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