The infamous Bitcoin critique and Gold bug Peter Schiff has found himself in a mess after his bank went under scrutiny involving a multi-jurisdictional tax evasion probe that includes authorities from Australia, Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and the Netherlands.
Schiff, who believes that Bitcoin has no use case other than being a tool for criminals, is now being investigated because is the bank has supposedly housed accounts for known criminals.
According to reports from Australia publisher The Age and The New York Times, the J5, a joint task force of tax authorities from major Western governments, has put “hundreds” of accounts at Schiff’s Puerto Rico-based Euro Pacific Bank under investigation for tax fraud dubbed “Operation Atlantis”.
The effort was established after it was discovered tax authorities weren’t equipped to deal with the revelations arising from the “Panama Papers” scandal.
The bank has been marked as an “Australian Priority Organization Target,” for allegedly helping some of its clients to launder large sums of money and evade taxes in Australia.
The report notes that the bank hired employees after a quick Google search screening and was asked to bring in clients that included names like Simon Antequetil, the infamous Australian fraudster, and tax evader.
The report adds that the bank’s clientele also included an anonymous Russian cybercriminal wanted both in Australia and the United States for his involvement in a worldwide malware attack, along with an Australian Drug trafficker.
Meanwhile, Schiff hasn’t been too vocal about this crackdown and has said in an interview with 60 Minutes Australia that:
“People can be investigated for all sorts of reasons doesn’t mean they did anything wrong. I’m not allowed to discuss it.”
“It’s got nothing to do with reality,” he said of the allegations, and later stormed out of the interview.
Previously, former Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigator John Chevis had also discovered that Euro Pacific had a relationship with West Australian government-owned Perth Mint. He told The Age:
“I was very surprised. I think there’s a significant risk that some of the gold held within the Perth Mint by customers of the Euro Pacific Bank may be held beneficially for criminals in other parts of the world.”
The reports also reveal some details which could be the reason behind Schiff’s views regarding Bitcoin Skeptic. A part of the report reads:
“The bank’s security was also a problem […] at one point, Russians tried to extort the bank for a ransom of 1000 bitcoins, worth millions of dollars.”
The extortion attempt could be the reason why Schiff has been so vocal about the number one cryptocurrency. His most recent argument was with Gemini co-founder Tyler Winklevoss.