Oyster Protocol founder arrested for tax evasion in exit scam

The founder of Oyster Protocol, Amir Bruno Elmaani has been arrested and charged for evading taxes in an exit scam by U.S. authorities.

By · Dec 12, 2020 . 6min read

Oyster Protocol founder arrested news

The founder of Oyster Protocol, an Ethereum-based smart contract platform, has been arrested after an exit scam in which he received a multi-million dollar profit. Amir Bruno Elmaani, also known as “Bruno Block,” was arrested and charged with tax evasion fraud. According to the official report from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Bruno Block made millions in profit from Oyster’s native crypto Pearl’s initial coin offering but declined to disclose the earnings.

Oyster Protocol founder acquired Pearl tokens under Founder’s share.

Elmaani marketed Pearl tokens through the ICO on several cryptocurrency market platforms and reaped a ‘founder’s share’ of Pearl tokens for his own use. He also built the Oyster Protocol company by a separate shell company utilizing a pseudonym. In June 2018, he stated by using the aforementioned pseudonym, intimating that he would hold millions of Pearl tokens as an ‘ownership stake’ in the Oyster Protocol. Moreover, he informed the investors to move his tokens to a distinct crypto wallet. Thus avoiding double taxation.

However, Elmaani did not pay any tax on the ICO’s rewards or transfer of tokens. He also employed friends and family as selectees to accept cryptocurrency proceeds, which were then transferred to his own wallets or transformed to dollars before being transferred to his accounts. The profit received from this was around $90,000 in value back then, or 300 Ether (ETH).

Amir Bruno Elmaani’s exit scam

Further, Elmaani composed an exit scam in October 2018. The Oyster Protocol did possess a fixed supply of Pearl tokens. Nevertheless, Elmaani utilized his access to the platform and invented new tokens for his own personal use. By developing new tokens, he converted the pearl tokens to other crypto tokens on the distinct crypto exchange. This assisted the exchange to suspend trading of the tokens, and the price of Pearl fell. After that, Elmaani, once again, cashed out the crypto with the help of his friends and family. He then transferred the funds to a bank account under his name.

Moreover, Elmaani filed a false tax return to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). He declined to disclose the income earned on crypto. Utilizing the pseudonymous name and functioning via shell companies, Elmaani also accommodated various assets. In 2018 Elmaani did not report any income or file a tax return to the IRS. Recently, Elmaani is facing two counts of tax evasion. He could serve a maximum sentence of ten years in prison if guilty.

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