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A cryptocurrency user who bought a luxury car with Bitcoin (BTC) has been sentenced to 18 months in prison and a $3.7 million fine in Morocco, where the use of cryptocurrency is still illegal.
A recent report by Euronews states that the Casablanca Court of Appeal upheld the conviction of Thomas Clausi, a 21-year-old French national, on charges of fraud and illegal use of cryptocurrency.
According to Clausi’s lawyer Mohamed Aganaj, the court upheld the verdict last week. This decision indicates that the Moroccan judiciary is taking a strong stance against the use of cryptocurrencies in the country.
The use of BTC to buy a Ferrari led to Clausi’s arrest in 2021 as Moroccan customs consider the use of the cryptocurrency to be an illegal transfer of funds. Clausi was imprisoned in December 2021 on charges of “fraud” and “using foreign currency for payments within Moroccan borders” with a prison sentence and a fine, which were handed down in October of that year.
| Un français a été condamné par la Chambre criminelle du tribunal de Casablanca à une peine de 18 mois de prison assortie d’une amende de 3.4 millions d’euros.
Il a été condamné pour escroquerie et d’usage illégal de crypto-monnaie.
Il a vendu sa Ferrari en échange de pic.twitter.com/ubk3m1p9UJ
— Moroccan History ۞ (@MoroccanSories) October 21, 2022
The legal case against Clausi began after a woman who lived in Casablanca accused him of “fraud” after exchanging a luxury car for a bitcoin payment of around $437,000.
According to Aganaj, Clausi has a month left in prison.
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Despite its illegal status in the country, Morocco has been hailed as the number one BTC trade in North Africa in 2021. According to Triple A, a Singaporean provider and aggregator of cryptocurrencies, about 0.9 million people, equivalent to approximately 2.4% of the total population of Morocco, currently own cryptocurrencies.
More than a year later, the country has begun finalizing its cryptocurrency regulatory framework, which its central bank believes will legally define cryptocurrencies in its market.