Founder of Oyster Protocol Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison for $5.5M Tax Fraud


Amir Bruno Elmaani, the founder of the now-defunct cryptocurrency scheme Oyster Protocol, has been sentenced to the maximum of four years in prison for tax evasion. According to the United States Attorney’s Office, Elmaani – also known as “Bruno Block” – pleaded guilty on April 6, admitting he minted and sold Pearl tokens without paying income tax on a substantial amount of profits from the project, resulting in tax losses of over $5.5 million.

Elmaani promoted Pearl (PRL) between September and October 2017, advertising it as a way of purchasing data on a blockchain-based data storage platform called Oyster Protocol. However, he secretly minted a large number of new PRL tokens and sold them without the knowledge of Oyster Protocol’s team or investors.

Elmaani declared a total income of only $15,000 from a patent design business in 2017, and reported zero income to the tax authorities in 2018. Despite this, he spent more than $10 million on multiple yachts, $1.6 million at a carbon-fiber composite company, hundreds of thousands of dollars at home improvement stores, and $700,000 to purchase two homes. He was also found to have dealt substantially in precious metals and kept gold bars in a safe on one of his yachts.

In addition to his four-year prison sentence, Elmaani was sentenced to one year of supervised release and was ordered to pay $5.5 million in restitution. The District Attorney Damian Williams commented on the sentencing: “Amir Elmaani violated the duty he owed to pay taxes on millions of dollars of cryptocurrency profits, and he also violated the trust of investors in the cryptocurrency he founded.”

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