Infamous Bitcoin skeptic and vocal critic Peter Schiff is in the spotlight due to an investigation into alleged tax evasion at his Puerto-Rican bank Euro Pacific.
Peter Schiff is a famous businessman and celebrity gold investor best known for predicting the 2006 U.S. housing crisis. He is worth an estimated $100 million and has become infamous in the cryptocurrency community for his vocal denouncements of Bitcoin.
However, after years of criticism, Schiff recently noted in a tweet that he was “wrong about Bitcoin” following an incorrect price prediction. However, he went on to note that Bitcoin had “returned to a bear market” although since then it has only gone up.
Many allege that Schiff’s criticism of Bitcoin stems from an attempt by Russian hackers to extort 1000 Bitcoin from Euro Pacific after uncovering flaws in the banks’ security. When the extortion took place and whether the ransom was paid is unclear.
J5’s Euro Pacific Investigation
As reported by Australian news outlet The Age last Friday, hundreds of accounts at Euro Pacific are being investigated by the multinational task force J5, an agency formed to tackle tax fraud on a global scale. The investigation is part of a larger probe dubbed “Operation Atlantis” and includes members of tax authorities from five major Western governments.
J5 came into being following the revelations brought to light by the Panama Papers, a leaked publication revealing the scale of tax evasion perpetrated by millions of large corporations using offshore bank accounts. The leak resulted in widespread outcry and the launch of investigations in 82 countries worldwide. Most notably, the founders of Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca were arrested and charged with money laundering. The 2019 film “The Laundromat” details the events that led to the arrests and the fallout that followed.
Since news of the investigation surfaced, Schiff has vehemently denied any wrong-doing by his bank, saying the allegations have “nothing to do with reality”. In an interview with 60 Minutes Australia, Schiff stormed out of the studio, clearly ruffled by the line of questioning. Schiff is no stranger to questionable tax ethics and was likely influenced by his father, Irwin Schiff, who died in prison following his incarceration for promoting tax resistance.
Despite Schiff’s negative sentiment regarding Bitcoin, some members of the crypto community support him and his apparent ‘anti-tax’ beliefs. Many crypto proponents see Bitcoin and similar private digital assets as a means to circumnavigate what they feel are oppressive tax regulations by corrupt governments.