September 25, 2023

John David McAfee, founder of the anti-virus software maker of the same name, died in a Spanish prison on Wednesday, the same day a Spanish court announced that he was extradited to the United States for tax evasion.

His death was confirmed by his lawyers. He was 75.

Mr McAfee was arrested in Spain in 2020 after prosecutors in the US accused him of not filing tax returns from 2014 to 2018 despite making millions by “mining cryptocurrencies, providing advisory services, lecturing and selling rights to his life story “. for a documentary, ”said a Justice Department indictment last year.

In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused Mr. McAfee in October of promoting Initial Coin Offerings – deals for cryptocurrencies – on Twitter without revealing that he was paid for them. In its complaint, the SEC said that Mr. McAfee claimed to be independent and impartial but received more than $ 23 million to generate interest in the offers.

Mr McAfee said he was arrested despite having paid “millions of dollars in taxes” and resisting extradition for the money supply. But on Wednesday the Spanish court said it would allow the Justice Department’s request to extradite him, saying there was “no supporting evidence that anything like this could happen”.

“The social, economic or other relevance asserted by the defense does not grant the complainant any immunity,” it says in the judgment.

“When I heard of John’s impending extradition, my team was fully prepared to fight for his innocence in the United States courts,” said Andrew B. Gordan, one of Mr. McAfee’s attorneys. “We knew he would appreciate the opportunity to share his story and clear up the false allegations against him. Only hours later we were shocked to learn of his untimely death. “

The Ministry of Justice of the Catalan region of Spain said that his death would be considered a probable suicide pending investigation.

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Previously, Mr. McAfee was the focus of media hype over the death of a neighbor in Belize. In 2012, he fled his home after the police labeled him a “person of interest”. According to media reports at the time, the Belize government also accused him of having set up a militia and acting in the drug trade. Within weeks, Mr McAfee was arrested on charges of illegally entering Guatemala, where he had sought political asylum.

In 2016, he was back in the United States, running for president as a libertarian. In his campaign video, he declared: “To the crazy ones”.

McAfee Associates, the software company he founded, was once a household name in computer security. He started it in his little home in Santa Clara, California in response to a Pakistani computer virus called Brain, which was thought to be the first attack on personal computers. His plan was to create an antivirus program and put it on computer bulletin boards in the hopes that users would install it on their computers at work. They did, and the companies paid royalties, which brought Mr. McAfee about $ 5 million a year in revenue through 1990.

McAfee Associates went public in 1992 and made $ 80 million in its founder’s stock, but he resigned in 1994. The company’s rise to fame continued without him. Intel, the maker of computer chips, bought the company for $ 7.7 billion in 2010 and sold its controlling stake to an investment firm six years later.

By that point, Mr McAfee had lost a fortune in the 2008 financial crisis and moved to Central America in search of an easier, cheaper way of life, he told reporters.

Before and after Intel bought McAfee Associates, the company tried to distance itself from Mr. McAfee. Before it sold the company, Intel attempted to rename it Intel Security. But it never shook his bond with its founder and the brand he co-founded, and the McAfee name was restored on sale.

When Mr McAfee tried to use the name on a new security company in 2016, Intel filed a lawsuit to prevent him from doing so. Intel and Mr. McAfee settled the lawsuit, with Mr. McAfee agreeing not to use his name in the cybersecurity arena.

Cade Metz and Raphael Minder contributed to the coverage.