Cybersecurity mad man John McAfee has been arrested in Spain and charged with “fraudently touting ICOs” by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the US.
The SEC states that McAfee promoted investment in initial coin offerings (ICOs) to his Twitter followers without disclosing that he was paid to do so. Jimmy Watson Jr is also being charged for his role in the scheme – Watson is McAfee’s bodyguard according to the SEC.
“McAfee promoted multiple ICOs on Twitter, allegedly pretending to be impartial and independent even though he was paid more than $23 million in digital assets for the promotions. When certain investors asked whether he was paid to promote the ICOs, McAfee allegedly denied receiving any compensation from the issuers,” wrote the SEC in a press release.
What might be a bit more concerning for McAfee is allegations that he and Watson took part in a scheme in which they allegedly touted a digital security asset on Twitter (which they allegedly had invested in) and then selling their investment as the price rose.
“Potential investors in digital asset securities are entitled to know if promoters were compensated by the issuers of those securities,” Cyber Unit Chief at the SEC, Kristina Littman.
“McAfee, assisted by Watson, allegedly leveraged his fame to deceptively tout numerous digital asset securities to his followers without informing investors of his role as a paid promoter.”
Should McAfee be found guilty of his alleged crimes he could face “a maximum sentence of five years in prison on each count of tax evasion and a maximum sentence of one year in prison on each count of willful failure to file a tax return” according to the Department of Justice.
McAfee also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.
Of course, this all rests on McAfee being extradited to the US to face these charges and that is currently pending.