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Morocco punishes man harshly for using Bitcoin

TL;DR

  • Thomas Clausi, a 21-year-old French citizen, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined €3.4 million in Morocco for using Bitcoin illegally.
  • Accused of “fraud” and “payment with foreign currency,” Clausi’s case highlights Morocco’s strict laws against cryptocurrency use in the country.
  • This high-profile case is raising questions and sparking debates about Morocco’s financial regulations and the potential for embracing financial innovation.

In a recent case, Thomas Clausi, a 21-year-old French citizen, faced a hefty €3.4 million fine and 18 months in prison for using cryptocurrency in Morocco, a country where such transactions are deemed illegal.

A costly lesson in cryptocurrency

Despite the potential for cryptocurrencies to foster financial innovation, Morocco’s government has maintained its conservative stance on their usage.

The Casablanca Court of Appeal upheld the judgment against Clausi on Tuesday evening, as confirmed by his lawyer, Mohamed Aghanaj. Clausi was arrested in 2021 for using Bitcoin to purchase a luxury car. Moroccan customs view the use of cryptocurrency as an unlawful transfer of funds.

Consequently, Clausi was incarcerated in December 2021 for “fraud” and “payment with foreign currency on Moroccan territory,” and he received a fine of approximately €3.4 million in addition to his prison sentence.

The legal proceedings began after a French woman living in Casablanca filed a “fraud” complaint against Clausi, who had bought a Ferrari from her in exchange for a Bitcoin payment worth €400,000.

Clausi was also the subject of another complaint from a Moroccan citizen, accusing him of signing a bad check in the name of a third person to purchase three luxury watches. The court ordered Clausi to compensate the owner of the watches to the tune of 40,000 dirhams (€3,900).

According to Clausi’s father, the young man from Moselle, eastern France, had moved to Morocco with the intention of establishing a neobank in Africa. Unfortunately, his plans were disrupted by his arrest and subsequent legal troubles.

Morocco’s strict stance on cryptocurrency usage has undoubtedly made an example of Clausi, serving as a cautionary tale for others who may be considering engaging in similar transactions within the country.

Cybercrime concerns in Morocco

This case is not the only one involving French citizens and cybercrime in Morocco. Earlier this year, Moroccan authorities extradited another French citizen, Sébastien Raoult, to the US to face criminal charges related to cybercrimes.

Raoult is suspected of being a member of a hacker group known as ShinyHunters, a “black hat” group alleged to have stolen and sold data from numerous major companies.

The Moroccan government’s crackdown on cybercrime, illegal use of cryptocurrency, and other related offenses highlights the growing concerns over the potential for fraud and other financial crimes in the digital age.

As countries worldwide grapple with the challenges posed by rapidly evolving technology and an increasingly interconnected global economy, the need for comprehensive regulations and stringent enforcement measures becomes even more critical.

Despite the severity of Clausi’s punishment, it is essential to recognize that as cryptocurrencies become more mainstream, the need for countries like Morocco to reconsider their stance on digital currencies is crucial.

By doing so, they can potentially foster innovation and support the development of new financial services and products.

The case of Thomas Clausi serves as a stark reminder for individuals and businesses to remain vigilant and informed about the legal implications of their financial transactions, particularly when operating in foreign jurisdictions.

Disclaimer: The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decision.

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Jai Hamid

Jai Hamid is a passionate writer with a keen interest in blockchain technology, the global economy, and literature. She dedicates most of her time to exploring the transformative potential of crypto and the dynamics of worldwide economic trends.

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