A well-known Bitcoin supporter, Patrick Byrne, has announced his resignation as CEO of retail giant Overstock, the company he founded and led for 20 years.
As official reasons for such a decision, Patrick Byrne calls investors “certain issues related to the government” in yesterday’s letter, making it clear that it is directly related to the recent recognition that he maintained a romantic relationship with Mariya Butina for three years, who is serving a prison sentence in the United States on charges with spying.
The relationship between Patrick Byrne with Maria Butina became widely known on Monday, August 12, when the company published an official press release in response to reports that the head of Overstock was involved in a federal investigation regarding the 2016 presidential election. It said that Byrne did assist the intelligence services in their investigation of Russia’s interference in US elections.
The publication of a press release entitled “Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne resigns following ‘deep state’ comments, stock rises” triggered a drop in the company’s shares by more than 30% over the next two days while opening an intriguing new chapter in the history of Butina and her ties with influential Americans.
Russian lawyer Robert Driscoll confirmed that Butina and Byrne had a “romantic relationship” and that, according to Byrne, the security services gave him instructions on how to communicate with her.
A few days later, in an interview with The New York Times, Byrne said that he met Butina in 2015 at the libertarian convention in Las Vegas, where they discussed Russian history, literature, and philosophy.
According to him, at some point she said: “You are a very famous person in Russia.”
After the event in Las Vegas, Byrne and Butina continued to communicate via text messaging. Berne, who calls himself “a 56-year-old bachelor,” said that their meetings quickly took on a romantic essence. They met several times in other American cities, and she also came to his residence in Utah.
Byrne himself admitted that he was suspicious of Butina’s intentions. In the end, he told the FBI about his meetings with a Russian woman.
According to Byrne, she increasingly spoke about her desire to meet people involved in the campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Senators Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz, and Marco Rubio, which made him wary. Butina’s lawyer, however, claims that she was just an ambitious young woman who, in her misfortune, decided to build a career, establishing relations between the United States and Russia.
According to Byrne, he felt that he had to speak out, because, from his point of view, the special services were conducting an inappropriate investigation into Butina. In his opinion, this investigation was connected “not so much with enforcement, but with political espionage against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.”
Referring to Byrne, on July 25, Driscoll wrote a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General. The letter stated that the Overstock CEO told the lawyer that during his relationship with Butina he “acted on the instructions of the government and on the instructions of federal agents, developing a romantic relationship with her.”
This story will probably be continued from a political point of view, but it has already hit Berne himself, who today left the post of CEO at Overstock.
Recall recently Patrick Byrne has focused on the development of the tZero platform, the Overstock blockchain division for trading security tokens.
Overstock itself at one time became one of the first companies in the world, which at the beginning of 2015 began to accept bitcoin and actively encouraged the use of cryptocurrency among its employees.
Jonathan Johnson, head of venture capital at Medici Ventures, has been appointed interim CEO of Overstock.