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Why was John McAfee in exile and what was he being extradited for?

Businessman John McAfee, charged with tax evasion, was found dead after his extradition to the United States had been granted by the Spanish government.

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Why was John McAfee in exile and what was he being extradited for?
DARRIN ZAMMIT LUPI REUTERS

John McAfee founder of McAfee Associates, famous for selling virus protection software was found dead in his jail cell near Barcelona, Spain on 23 June. The businesses man had been indicted on tax evasion charges and his extradition to the United States had been approved just before he committed suicide.

Why had he been arrested? 



McAfee was arrested in Spain in October 2020 at the request of the US Department of Justice who was pursuing a case against the multimillionaire. The charges filed at the time of his arrest said that over a four-year period McAfee had earned millions of dollars and paid no income tax.

The arrest came after the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against McAfee on 5 October 2020. The complaint alleged that the tech entrepreneur had “leveraged his fame to make more than $23.1 million U.S. Dollars (“USD”) in undisclosed compensation by recommending at least seven “initial coin offerings” or ICOs to his Twitter followers.” The SEC argues that his participation was illegal because “The ICOs at issue involved the offer and sale of digital asset securities and McAfee’s recommendations were materially false and misleading for several reasons.”

In many ways, these charges come down to false advertising in that the SEC believed that his followers would believe that he had vetted the companies and believed in the product. In reality, investigators found that he was being paid to promote security -- the ICO -- without disclosing his personal income gains, which is illegal in the United States.

In March 2021, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York brought forward a formal indictment and the process of extradition began.

McAfee was found dead in his cell after committing suicide, hours after his extradition to the United States had been approved by the Spanish government. The Catalan government, the province where McAfee was being held, put out a statement saying that the evidence indicates that he took his own life.