Roger Ver

Roger Ver sticks his head up to remind us he’s the reason we’re in this mess

For a man once affectionately known as Bitcoin Jesus, Roger Ver has been oddly quiet in recent years, only poking his head up to libel former associates or push the failed BCH protocol onto unwitting Antiguan businesses.

His latest showing was no exception, appearing on the Thinking Crypto podcast to again call Dr. Craig Wright a scammer and enthuse about how crashes like FTX mean more interest for the ‘crypto.’

It’s intriguing that Ver has chosen this moment to stick his head up. The charred remains of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX empire are being picked over by law enforcement and regulator, while more new fraud is being uncovered with each passing week. One would think that someone who has spent his time advocating for the kind of regulation-free environment that has allowed the FTXs and Tethers of the world to operate without oversight at great cost to the rest of the industry would be keen to avoid attention at this juncture in digital asset history.

Not Ver, who views the digital asset industry as an extension of his anarchist leanings:

This is, after all, the same person who did time in federal prison for using the U.S. postal service to sell explosives. Unsurprisingly, it’s also the same person who once responded to an industry-driven attempt to cooperate with regulators and law enforcement by comparing them to Hitler, Stalin and Mao, going on to say that regulators “aren’t adept at catching bad actors, but are far more adept at creating hurdles for legitimate business.”

Even mere weeks ago, Ver was extolling the benefits of ‘cryptocurrency’-backed assassination markets to his Twitter followers.

Consider also that Ver has been linked with a number of the industry’s biggest disasters. He was involved with the Mt. Gox disaster, apparently being on-site at the company’s offices in Tokyo to help with damage control (Ver is quick to point out that the FTX collapse is bigger in raw numbers). He’s also been snapped counselling convicted pedophile and prolific fraudster Russ Medlin on BitClub, an enterprise later revealed to be a ponzi scheme responsible for defrauding investors of $722 million.

Safe to say, FTX and BitClub could have used some more of those very hurdles Ver complains about. Ver himself seems to appreciate this, given his laughable attempt to spin the FTX story during his Thinking Crypto Appearance:

“I find it very ironic that the guy that was calling for the most regulation failed to regulate his own business there.”

In light of all this, you’d think Ver would be spending 2022 taking a victory lap basking in the chaos he helped create. In a way, he kind of is:

“Yeah it’s horrible that everybody lost a bunch of money and crashed the whole market, but now the whole world is focused on crypto currency even more,” he told Thinking Crypto.

After all, although the law has always applied to the digital asset industry one way or another, a lack of the sort of legal clarity advocated for by Ver’s opponents has in effect amounted to a status quo where many participants in the space feel free to operate with impunity—just as Ver wanted it.

You can see where such misguided beliefs have left the industry.

Fortunately, that time is coming to an end. Lawmakers and regulators the world around were motivated to tie off any remaining legal loose ends pertaining to digital assets heading into 2022: in the months since, we’ve seen stablecoin Terra/Luna collapse and take hedge fund 3AC and many others with them, as well as the revelation that ‘crypto’’s biggest advocate in D.C., Sam Bankman-Fried, was among the most negligent fraudsters the industry has to offer. All the while, deteriorating economic conditions have been accompanied by dramatic rises in digital asset fraud, placing added pressure on government to ensure adequate protections are in place for victims.

Ver is especially worthy of examination in this context, because Ver is far from a mere ideologue. By his own count, he has invested in over 100 blockchain projects. An early investment into Blockchain.com saw him given founder status there, which led to Ver bringing Changpeng Zhao into the crypto fold by hiring him as the company’s head of development and putting Zhao on the course to founding Binance, which has never met a law it wouldn’t try to skirt.

You might ask where this all leaves Roger Ver, but the market has already given an answer.

BCH itself is on its last legs, with some presumably large portion of its remaining web traffic coming from Ver’s duplicitous use of the Bitoin.com domain to sell BCH to people expecting Bitcoin (BSV). Even these remnants are scheduled for annihilation: BCH’s use has dropped so dramatically that Coinbase announced it would be ending support for BCH from 2023, while a landmark series of litigation launched by Bitcoin’s inventor is targeting companies and individuals who are improperly using the Bitcoin name to sell unrelated products. Ver hasn’t been included in that suit—yet—but he’s a small fry compared to the likes of Coinbase and Kraken, the first recipients of the lawsuits.

There’s also his ongoing retreat from a defamation claim filed by Dr. Craig Wright over denigrating statements Ver made over Wright’s status as Bitcoin’s inventor. Ver has led Dr. Wright on a journey around the world as Ver attempts to evade the jurisdiction of any court that Wright brings him before, but it looks like Ver has run out of track there, too: the High Court in Antigua is currently determining whether to accept Dr. Wright’s defamation claim against Ver in that country. Ver and Wright are both citizens of Antigua with local business connections, so there may be no better venue for Dr. Wright to have his dispute with Ver settled.

Ultimately, Ver is a holdover from a bygone era in digital assets. He showed this when his version of ‘looking on the bright side’ of the FTX crash is that it would get more people interested in the industry. When celebrities start telling you to HODL at the Super Bowl, you know the industry has moved on. Now, crashes like FTX are good for one thing: destroying investors. At this point the only thing that can get more eyes on the industry is regulatory protection from people like Sam Bankman-Fried and Roger Ver, who would rather see investors parted from their money than be held to account by the legal system.

Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups—from BitMEX to Binance, Bitcoin.com, Blockstream, ShapeShift, Coinbase, RippleEthereum,
FTX and Tether—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.

New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.

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