Amir Bruno Elmaani, aka “Bruno Brock,” founder of the blockchain protocol Oyster Pearl, has been handed a four-year jail term for tax offenses, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Tuesday.
Elmaani, 31, of Martinsburg, West Virginia, was also sentenced to one year of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of $5.5 million, the estimated tax loss. Elmaani pleaded guilty in April 2023. He had initially been charged in 2020 separately by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Elmaani used a coin mixer to conceal the true destination of cryptocurrencies on the blockchain before transferring funds to family members and friends and then to himself, according to the DOJ.
The origins of the case go back to 2017 when Elmaani made “millions of dollars” from an initial coin offering of its pearl (PRL) cryptocurrency, but instead of reporting the income from sales, he falsified his tax return and then used $10 million in proceeds to buy multiple yachts (where he stored gold bars), real estate and home renovations.
“I stated in public forums that after the ICO, the supply of PRL would not increase, and that the smart contract that created PRL would be “locked,” Elmaani admitted in the plea agreement, according to the announcement. “Contrary to these statements, 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.”
“Amir Elmaani violated the duty he owed to pay taxes on millions of dollars of cryptocurrency profits, and he also violated the trust of investors in the cryptocurrency he founded,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams. “Participants in the cryptocurrency markets must play by the rules, and this Office will be tireless in prosecuting those who do not.”
Edited by Parikshit Mishra.