I guess that Roger Ver is not aware of the Streisand Effect!
For those who are not familiar with his story, a bit of background. After acquiring citizenship in St. Kitts and Nevis (“SKN”), Mr. Ver decided to expatriate from the US. He later wanted to enter the US for a conference. Like all SKN nationals, Mr. Ver required a US B1/B2 visa to visit the US. After getting rejected for a US visa for entirely predictable reasons including a past serious criminal record, Mr. Ver took to the media to tell a tale of being “wrongfully punished” by “childish officials” who did not “know or follow their own laws”. This included a series of interviews that were posted on-line.
This media blitz brought him to my attention for the first time. His story did not jive with the experiences of the well over one hundred individuals who I have helped expatriate from the US in the past 25 years. This prompted me to look a little deeper into the situation and post a blog. I later sent tweets to Mr. Ver and to the various media outlets which had interviewed him linking the blog.
On Sunday evening, almost 2 weeks after initially posting my blog, I received the following direct messages on Twitter from Mr. Ver: “Direct Messages › with Roger Ver > You should be ashamed by the amount of lies and FUD you are spreading about me. You have no idea what you are talking about and didn’t bother to fact check anything or you would know that you are mistaken. Roger Ver > Go learn to use google or spread your lies about someone else.”
For those of you who are not as hip as Mr. Ver (my hand is up) “FUD” stands for ‘fear, uncertainty and doubt’. After sending the messages, Mr. Ver then immediately prevented me from privately replying directly to him by unfollowing me. As a result, Mr Ver left me with only a very public blog to respond, which would result in drawing even more unwanted attention to himself. So let’s examine my original blog to see if Mr. Ver’s criticisms are warranted. There are two possible types of errors/misinformation/lies that I could have made; namely ‘mistakes of fact’ or ‘mistakes of law’. Let’s break it down by element.
1st Assertion of Fact:
“Mr. Ver was convicted of a serious crime in the US and served 10 months in jail. While, he brushes this off as “persecution for his libertarian views”, a read of the publicly available court proceedings seems to make this a bit of a stretch. What is not at issue is the conviction and the sentence.”
I present as indisputable evidence supporting this assertion of fact, the publicly available transcript of Mr. Ver’s Guilty Plea and Mr. Ver’s Sentencing.
2nd Assertion of Fact:
“Next according to credit information, since his release, it would appear that Mr. Ver has been living in California and Hawaii rather than Japan as he claimed.”
I do have a complete credit history including places of residence and applications for utilities, which anyone who runs a basic credit check can get. It does list various residences in Santa Clara, San Jose and Honolulu from 1997 through to just before Mr. Ver’s expatriation. However to spare Mr. Ver from any possible easy identity theft issues, I will not post them here. Anyone who wanted to do their own credit check can see the same information.
In his interviews, Mr. Ver continually claimed to have left the US at the conclusion of his incarceration in 2003 and moved to Japan. As I said in my blog;
“While he may be doing a bit of “resume expansion” for “street cred” regarding claiming living in Japan, it’s not criminal. However, it does undermine any claim he might have that he “tried to submit a bunch of proof he lived in Japan” to American officials who refused to accept it. It would also explain why he applied for a B1/B2 visa at the American visa office in Barbados (responsible for St. Kitts and Nevis) rather than Tokyo (which deals with legal residents of Japan)”
1st and 2nd Assertion of Law:
“Mr. Ver needed to prove to US officials that he had sufficient residential connections with a country within that office’s jurisdiction. This was to overcome INA s. 214(b) that he intended to immigrate to the US.”
“Even if Mr. Ver had been able to show sufficient ties to St. Kitts to overcome the immigrant intent, then the B1/B2 visa could still have been denied under INA 101(h) as he had a prior serious conviction.”
This interpretation of US immigration law was verified by a review of the statue; the Foreign Affairs Manual; and a telephone discussion with a long-time US colleague who is on the board of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Mr. Ver could have identified these two points of law himself, if he followed his own advice and availed himself of Google.
Since the original blog cited all the support for my further statements of law and fact, I won’t bore you to tears with repeating it again. In conclusion, it appears that Mr. Ver made his initial mistake in not seeking proper legal advice about his ability to visit the US post renunciation. He may have been fine with that situation, and proceeded to renounce anyway. However, he may have decided NOT to take that step to preserve his ability to re-enter the US.
His second mistake was in applying for a US B1/B2 visa without properly preparing himself to overcome the intending immigrant and criminality hurdles. Mr. Ver’s third mistake was going public with his “somewhat questionable” story and drawing attention to his serious criminal record. Border officials at every country which he will hope to visit in the future, could very well prevent him from entering because of his prior incarceration. His fourth mistake was drawing attention in SKN to the fact that he had been granted citizenship despite the fact of his serious criminal conviction.
While the new government has decided to continue the economic citizenship program, they are also firmly committed to reviewing any prior grants of citizenship to questionable applicants like Mr. Ver. His final mistake was to draw even more attention to the situation by calling me a liar and incompetent. I will not try to claim that I am George Washington and never told a lie in my life or was wrong in some professional opinion over the last quarter century. However in this area, the facts were easily verified and the law was very straightforward and well known to me and the expert I consulted. In short, Mr. Ver seems to be compounding poorly exercised initial judgement by just digging himself deeper and deeper. Mr. Ver here is some free advice from a qualified lawyer who has two and a half decades of experience in this area…”Well you are certainly not ‘ahead’, I would humbly suggest that you quit before you get even further ‘behind’.
One final remark for those supporters who think I am a ‘government thug’ who is just out to undermine the credibility of BitCoin, I would like to point out a few things that make this accusation silly. First, Mr. Ver’s failure to secure a US visa had absolutely nothing to do with Bitcoin. With his past and lack of preparedness, Mr. Ver would have had the exact same visa outcome if he was the ‘My Little Pony Jesus’ rather than the ‘BitCoin Jesus’.
Second, I just finished publishing a book called “Flight of the Golden Geese” which is all about individuals who are freeing themselves from their current governments. This hardly burnishes my credentials as a government thug. Third, my co-author, Ian Angell is a London School of Economics Professor Emeritus who is considered by many in the Bitcoin community to be the Godfather of the concept of Cryptocurrency, having espoused the concept almost 2 decades ago. In fact, Mr. Ver’s own Twitter profile features a picture of Professor Angell speaking at a recent conference in London they both attended.
“Without private money, the industrial revolution would have never happened” – @ProfIanAngell #BitcoinExpo2015 pic.twitter.com/HHxKjpxCat — Roger Ver (@rogerkver) January 25, 2015