In Brief

Winklevoss twins accuse cryptocurrency investor of stealing £25m in bitcoin

Charlie Shrew allegedly went on a massive spending spree after claiming he was penniless

American billionaires Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are suing a cryptocurrency investor for allegedly stealing millions of pounds worth of bitcoin from them.

Charlie Shrew is accused of funding his lavish lifestyle with 5,000 bitcoin - worth around $32m (£24.7m) at current prices - that he bought with the entrepreneurs’ money after becoming their advisor in 2012, according to The New York Times

In 2014, Shrew was jailed after pleading guilty to illegally helping people turn dollars into the digital currency to buy drugs online, the newspaper reports. He claimed to be almost penniless when he was released from prison, in 2016.

Yet in the past year alone, Shrew has reportedly purchased two Maseratis, a pair of power boats and a $2m (£1.5m) dollar mansion in Floria, fuelling the suspicions of the Winklevoss twins. 

“Either Shrem has been incredibly lucky and successful since leaving prison, or - more likely - he ‘acquired’ his six properties, two Maseratis, two powerboats and other holdings with the appreciated value of the 5,000 bitcoin,” the lawsuit says. 

The brothers, who last year became the first investors to make $1bn (£770m) in the cryptocurrency, claim they were “short-changed” after working with Shrew for “just a few months”, The Daily Telegraph says. 

In September 2012, the twins handed Shrew $250,000 (£192,403) to invest in bitcoin, then valued at $12.50 (£9.60) per coin. Shrew returned to them with $189,000 (£146,000) worth a month later - leaving the equivalent of almost 5,000 tokens unaccounted for.  

Given that the price of bitcoin to around £4,900 today, that price deficit has soared from around £46,000 to £24.7m. 

Shrew denies the allegations against him. His lawyer, Brian Klein, said the lawsuit “erroneously alleges that about six years ago Charlie essentially misappropriated thousands of bitcoins”, Gizomodo reports.

Klein continued: “Nothing could be further from the truth. Charlie plans to vigorously defend himself and quickly clear his name.”

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