Jack Abramoff, the former lobbyist who was convicted of various corruption charges in the 2000s, has been charged in a cryptocurrency case, a U.S. prosecutor said Thursday.
San Francisco U.S. Attorney David Anderson said at a press conference that Abramoff was charged with a criminal conspiracy to make false and misleading statements to potential buyers of cryptocurrency, Bloomberg News reported. The prosecutor said Abramoff agreed to plead guilty and could face up to five years in prison.
In a separate suit, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Abramoff, asserting he participated in a fraudulent and unregistered offer and sale of digital asset securities.
The SEC claims the sale occurred through NAC Foundation, a company that was creating a blockchain-based digital token called AML BitCoin, which the defendants claimed was “a new and improved version of bitcoin.”
The chief executive of the NAC Foundation, Rowland Marcus Andrade, was also indicted this week and will plead not guilty to his charges, Anderson said. The SEC said Andrade allegedly raised at least $5.6 million from more than 2,400 investors by selling tokens to later be transferred to AML BitCoin.
The commission also alleged both men claimed they were on the verge of advertising AML BitCoin during the SuperBowl, but the foundation couldn’t afford an ad at the time.
“We allege that these defendants repeatedly misled investors into funding non-existent technology, falsely claiming that the technology would make digital asset transactions more secure,” Kristina Littman, the chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit, said in a release.
Abramoff ended up serving 43 months in prison for his participation in a fraud scandal involving overcharging Native American tribes for developing casino gambling on their reservations. The scandal resulted in 20 convictions or guilty pleas, including two officials in President George W. Bush’s administration, former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and other political aides and lobbyists.
In 2006, the former lobbyist pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials and was in prison until 2010.