John McAfee suicide death: Antivirus pioneer wanted for tax evasion and securities fraud hangs self in Barcelona prison hours after Spanish court grants extradition back to US to face charges.
Antivirus software tycoon John McAfee is suspected of having hanged himself in a Spanish jail cell on Wednesday — just hours after a court ruled he would be extradited to face federal charges in the US.
Authorities said a preliminary investigation determined there were no signs of foul play, Spain’s El Pais reported.
The 75-year-old eccentric tech entrepreneur was arrested in October while en route to Turkey and was awaiting extradition in the Barcelona jail where he was being kept when he was found dead by hanging, police sources told El Pais.
Barcelona police are investigating the circumstances around his death.
Faced onslaught of charges
Lawyers for McAfee confirmed his death to The New York Times, with one saying it was ‘the result of a cruel system that had no reason to keep this man in jail for so long.’
Earlier on Wednesday, the Spanish High Court had agreed to extradite McAfee, who had been charged with a number of federal financial crimes in two districts in the United States.
McAfee was booked with a 10-count indictment in the Western District of Tennessee in October for allegedly evading taxes on millions of dollars in income.
He was arrested by authorities in Spain after the indictment was handed down and had been in custody in the country since.
In the Tennessee case, prosecutors alleged McAfee racked up millions of dollars in income through speaking engagements, selling his personal story for a documentary and doing consulting work.
He then skipped paying taxes on all of the income from 2014 to 2018, estimated at over $23.1 million according to the feds.
He was also charged in a separate indictment in Manhattan federal court in March for a ‘pump-and-dump’ securities fraud scheme involving cryptocurrencies that he had been promoting on social media.
Downfall of controversial tech pioneer
In that case, McAfee and an accomplice allegedly bilked bitcoin investors out of some $13 million in two schemes, including one where they bought up large quantities of ‘alt-coin,’ then inflated the price of it by publicizing it on Twitter.
They then sold off the cryptocurrency at the inflated price and made a $2 million profit, prosecutors said.
McAfee also had a history of run-ins with law enforcement. He, his family, and members of his security forces were arrested by the Belize police in 2012, after drug and firearm charges. He went on the run later that year, after the Belize police declared that he was wanted for questioning in relation to the murder of his neighbor.
As recently as 2019, McAfee called the case against him ‘frivolous,’ and refused to pay a $25 million judgement against him in a wrongful death suit. He also claimed that he had over $200 million in judgements against him, but that he could not pay any of them.
McAfee had claimed at an extradition hearing earlier this month that the federal tax evasion charges against him were politically motivated, AP reported. If convicted, McAfee had potentially faced up to 30 years prison
At the time of his suicide, McAfee still had opportunity to appeal against the court’s extradition authorization.