By CCN: Billionaire bitcoin mining investor Frank Timis ranks among Romania's wealthiest citizens and Britain's richest residents. A blockbuster investigation into his personal finances reveals that, despite his life of staggering luxury, he paid less than $50 in income tax in 2017.
Billionaire Bitcoin Mining Tycoon Gets Richer - And Pays Barely Any Taxes
A BBC report exposed Frank Timis's personal tax return from 2017, revealing that he had paid just £35.20 (around $44) in income tax, despite renting a £14,000-a-month penthouse and spending "thousands" dining in London's finest restaurants.
The billionaire, who has made a name in the crypto community by investing in bitcoin mining firm Argo Blockchain, claimed to have made "hardly any income" from his sprawling business empire.
According to leaked documents, Timis received £670,000 in payments during 2017 from his offshore trust. The payments were originally designated as "distributions," making them taxable under the law. However, just prior to submitting his return, Timis allegedly asked his trust to re-classify the distributions into untaxable loans.
The plot thickened when the news organization contacted the man who ran the trust and helped Timis change the loans from distribution.
Philip Caldwell was listed as chairman of the meeting that agreed to backdate the loans and alleviate Timis's tax burden. When asked by the BBC, Caldwell claims to have had no participation despite his signature being listed on the minutes. Instead, Caldwell says the meeting was faked.
"It has my signature on it but what I can say is that no such meeting ever took place. I wasn't there. I wasn't in Switzerland at the time."
As if paying just $44 in taxes for 2017 was not enough, leaked documents also showed Timis may have paid zero taxes the year before, suggesting that he may be guilty of tax evasion.
Heroin Dealing, Oil Fines, and Bitcoiners Skipping Taxes
Despite having a purported net worth of over $1.1 billion, Timis has spent much of the past three decades at the center of controversy. The Romanian tycoon was convicted twice for supplying heroin during the 1990s, and one of his companies received the London Stock Exchange's largest-ever fine in 2009 for misleading investors on an oil discovery.
Timis established a foothold in the crypto industry when he purchased shares in Argo Blockchain, a bitcoin mining pool that suffered mightily during the 2018 crypto winter.
Regardless of his legal baggage, the investment by Timis into Argo Blockchain - a reported 14 percent stake in the company - was viewed by crypto enthusiasts as a sign of growing institutional investment. Bitcoin supporters were thrilled with his old-timey connections to the oil and gold sector, viewing his transition to crypto as a sign of the old guard finally adapting to the changing times.
The Romanian billionaire may also share another commonality with his crypto supporters. A November 2018 survey by Credit Karma found that barely half of American bitcoin investors were planning to report crypto on their taxes.
Despite a large portion of crypto users skirting tax law, the IRS has done a horrendous job finding a compromise with digital asset investors. Crypto is classified and taxed as property in the US, which means the IRS expects investors to properly track and calculate profits from every single one of their transactions - an absurdity for most users and a near-impossibility for high-volume traders.
For his part, Frank Timis denies the tax evasion allegations.
"Mr Timis has fully complied with all of his tax obligations and at all stages has taken professional advice to ensure that he has done so," his lawyer said.