"Bruno Block" has been charged with two counts of tax evasion, and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
A cryptocurrency founder has been charged with tax evasion amid allegations that he spent $10 million on yachts, despite claiming that he only had an income of $15,000.
Amir Bruno Elmaani — also known as “Bruno Block” — is accused of making millions of dollars after launching Oyster Pearl, but investigators claim he funneled this income through a shell company.
The U.S. Department of Justice characterized the 28-year-old as a big spender who also spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars at a home improvement store, and over $700,000 for the purchase of two homes.”
According to the DoJ, Elmaani began promoting Pearl tokens in September 2017, at the height of the ICO boom. He told followers that he was planning to develop a platform so online data storage could be paid for using this cryptocurrency.
Following an initial coin offering, it’s claimed that he didn’t report or pay tax on any of the proceeds, got his friends and family to transfer crypto or U.S. dollars to his accounts, and “dealt substantially” in precious metals — keeping gold bars in a safe on his yacht.
It’s also alleged that his project ended up being an exit scam — and “the price of Pearl tokens held by investors dropped substantially” when new tokens were minted and withdrawn by Elmaani. The cryptocurrency was later delisted by the main exchange where they were being traded.
He faces two counts of tax evasion, each of which carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:
“With minimal reported income in 2018, he still managed to spend over $10 million for the purchase of yachts, but after Elmaani’s arrest, he won’t be sailing anywhere anytime soon.”