By Jonathan Stempel and Chris Prentice
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – John McAfee, creator of the eponymous anti-virus software, has been indicted in Manhattan federal court on fraud and money laundering conspiracy crimes, stemming from two schemes concerning the fraudulent promotion to investors of cryptocurrencies, officials said on Friday.
McAfee and his bodyguard Jimmy Gale Watson Jr were charged for a scheme to exploit McAfee’s large Twitter following by publicly touting cryptocurrency offerings and digital tokens that they later sold once prices rose on the promotions, according to the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
McAfee is being detained in Spain on separate criminal charges filed by the Justice Department’s tax division, the department said. Watson, an executive adviser of McAfee’s so-called cryptocurrency team, was arrested on Thursday night, the Justice Department said. Neither could be reached immediately for comment.
McAfee and Watson allegedly engaged in a scheme to exploit the “broad reach” of McAfee’s Twitter account by buying cryptocurrency assets, concealing a plan to liquidate them and then selling most quickly after his endorsements boosted prices, the CFTC said in a court document filed on Friday.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York and Chris Prentice in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)