The court has sentenced Amir Bruno Elmaani, the founder of the defunct crypto firm Oyster Protocol, to four years in prison for evading taxes. According to the US Attorney’s Office’s October 31 statement, 31-year-old Elmaani, alias Bruno Block, received the sentence after pleading guilty on April 6.
Federal prosecutors sued Block for offering unregistered ICO, secretly self-minting tokens, and tax evasion in 2020. Also, the founder allegedly initiated a pump-and-dump scheme through which he defrauded several investors, making millions in profit.
Multiple Charges Against Oyster Protocol Founder
In a separate lawsuit, the US SEC also accused Bruno Block of offering unregistered securities and allegedly selling millions of Pearl tokens. Again, the Department of Justice (DOJ) charged him with tax evasion related to his firm, Oyster Protocol, in another action.
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In the lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York, the DOJ alleged that Bruno Block promoted the Oyster Protocol in 2017 as a revolutionary solution in online data storage. Bruno launched Pearl tokens, which he used to raise thousands of dollars from investors.
Furthermore, in October 2017, he promoted the Pearl coins as a means of payment for cloud storage. The Oyster Protocol team launched another token sale during a bull market in December 2017. They mined and sold 25 million Pearl coins on EtherDelta and raised $1.75 million.
However, Elmanni secretly mined and sold in the heat of the bull run when Pearl surged $4 in late October 2018. He dumped the tokens on KuCoin and pocketed the proceeds. Emaani’s action substantially increased the trading volume of Pearl tokens on KuCoin, leaving investors with massive losses.
Oyster Founder Pleads Guilty Of Illegal Token Minting And Tax Evasion
Meanwhile, according to the US Attorney’s Office, Bruno Block has admitted that he secretly minted and sold Pearl tokens. In addition, the firm pleaded guilty to evading income tax on massive profits he amassed from the project.
In his statement, Elmaani said:
On or about October 29, 2018, I used the smart contract to mint new PRL without telling anyone, including others who worked on the Oyster Protocol project. I then sold these newly-minted PRL on a digital trading platform.
Additionally, Elmaani filed a false tax return in 2017, claiming he earned only $15,000 from a patent design business. And in 2018, he told authorities that he earned zero income.
Meanwhile, the court discovered that Elmaani spent over $10 million on several yachts and bought two homes for over $700,000 in 2018. Moreover, the founder spent thousands of dollars at home improvement supplies stores and $1.6 million at a carbon-fiber manufacturing company.
Besides these, Elmaani dealt with precious stones and had bars of gold stored safely in one of his yachts. According to the DOJ, he never reported or paid tax on his crypto proceeds.
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Further, Bruno Elmaani pleaded guilty to causing a tax loss of over $5.5 million. As a result, the court gave him a maximum sentence of four years in prison for his crimes.
District Attorney Damian Williams commented on the sentences and added:
Amir Elmaani violated the duty he owed to pay taxes on millions of dollars of cryptocurrency profits. And he also violated investors’ trust in the cryptocurrency he founded.
Featured image from Shutterstock and chart from TradingView.com