The former CEO of, Patrick Byrne, had been busy with business and politics and dating a Russian spy girlfriend in 2018.

The Indiana native who launched in 1999 gained $1.8 billion in revenues in 2016. He was set to change the entire system of trade and settlement with his association with blockchain, a digital cryptocurrency recording system. 

On his way, he met a Russian spy Maria Butina through a fateful encounter in Las Vegas. Byrne claims the FBI asked him to generate information from her, and he kindled the relationship as per their instruction.

Byrne and Butina Met in 2015

Byrne’s spy girlfriend, Maria Butina, is a Russian gun-rights activist who attended an American University.

The pair had a fateful introduction at the libertarian conference in Las Vegas in 2015. The encounter spiraled into a passionate conversation about guns, politics, and philosophies, and they grew closer to each other in three years.

Patrick Byrne and Maria Butina

Patrick Byrne and Maria Butina. (Source: The Duran's Instagram)

But years later, in 2019, Bryne shed a genuine revelation. The 58-year-old claimed that he had been meeting with the Department of Justice and working as a government informant, feeding information on Butina.

In his own words, the FBI first assigned him to have a romantic relationship with the Russian spy.

Not only that, when Maria invited Byrne to Russia to give a speech on St. Petersburg on Blockchain, the FBI forbade him from going because he had to be elsewhere.

Three months later, in July 2018, the agents said they made a mistake and requested Byrne to rekindle the romantic relationship with Butina.  

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The Fall Of Byrne's Russian Girlfriend

When Byrnes and Butina were dating, they were allegedly involved in the 2016 elections. Butina's involvement, and the fact that she wasn't a national citizen, led to controversies about her being a Russian spy.

As a result, she was sentenced to 18 months in prison after admittedly failing to register as a foreign agent.

Believing that the law enforcement officials didn't handle the investigation properly, Byrne published a news release in August 2019.

He claimed the FBI was behind his relationship with Butina. However, he asserted that he was still fond of her. He also remarked, "Maria should go home and be president of Russia one day...That is the best thing that could happen to Russia and the U.S.”

After making a claim, Byrne withdrew from his post of CEO of on August 22, 2019. He reportedly didn’t want his business to suffer because of politics.

In October 2019, Butina was released and immediately deported back to Russia. She applied to take part in primaries for Russia's ruling party to run for a parliamentary seat in April 2021.

The 32-year-old now works as a host for Russia’s television network.