Former CPA Pleads Guilty to Helping BitClub Architect Launder Funds in Alleged $722M Ponzi Scheme

The 57-year-old Nevada man pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of aiding in the preparation of a false tax return.

AccessTimeIconMar 24, 2022 at 8:19 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 6:19 p.m. UTC

A former accountant is the latest associate of the alleged BitClub Ponzi scheme to plead guilty.

Gordon Brad Beckstead, 57, admitted to helping the architects of the scheme – which defrauded investors of about $722 million over five years – cover their tracks.

The scheme ran from April 2014 to December 2019, when three of the BitClub leaders were arrested and charged with fraud and the sale of unregistered securities. BitClub purported to sell shares of nonexistent crypto mining pools to gullible investors, only to pay them back with money from newer investors, according to the government.

In addition to Beckstead and the architects of the scheme, the government has also nabbed a high-level promoter and a Romanian programmer who designed and operated the site.

Beckstead, who was also an investor in BitClub, said he controlled bank accounts associated with the scheme and its alleged “creator and operator," Matthew Brent Goettsche, in order to hide Goettsche’s association with the scam and evade tax reporting requirements.

The Nevada man, who is a CPA, also admitted to helping at least two outside tax preparers to create false tax returns for Goettsche in 2017 and 2018. The returns didn't include over $60 million in income Goettsche received through his role in BitClub.

According to a press release issued by the Department of Justice on Thursday, Beckstead’s tax hijinks shorted the government of $20 million federal income taxes.

Beckstead pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of aiding in the preparation of a false tax return. He faces up to 23 years in prison, as well as a fine.

UPDATE (April 27, 2022, 19:54 UTC): Adds "alleged" to "Ponzi scheme." While several members of BitClub have already pleaded guilty to various charges including money laundering and the sale of unregistered securities, Matthew Brent Goettsche, the project's founder, has not done so as of April 27.


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Cheyenne Ligon

Cheyenne Ligon is a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She has no significant crypto holdings.