In a landmark ruling, a young French crypto enthusiast is paying a steep price in Morocco for a luxury purchase made with Bitcoin.
According to a recent report by Euronews, a French crypto user has been handed an 18-month prison sentence and a whopping €3.4 million fine in Morocco for the illegal use of cryptocurrency.
Thomas Clausi, a 21-year-old from Moselle in eastern France, was found guilty of “fraud” and “illegal use of cryptocurrency” by the Moroccan courts, as the nation considers the use of cryptocurrency illegal. The conviction was upheld on 2 May 2023 by the Casablanca Court of Appeal, as confirmed by Clausi’s lawyer, Mohamed Aghanaj.
The case against Clausi commenced in 2021 when he used Bitcoin to purchase a luxury car, which Moroccan customs deemed an illegal transfer of funds. He was arrested in December 2021 for “fraud” and “payment with foreign currency on Moroccan territory” and was sentenced last October to prison time in addition to the hefty fine.
The legal proceedings were triggered by a French woman living in Casablanca, who accused Clausi of “fraud” after selling him a Ferrari in exchange for a Bitcoin payment worth €400,000.
Clausi, however, faced more legal trouble. A Moroccan citizen filed another complaint, accusing Clausi of issuing a bad check in the name of a third person to purchase three luxury watches. This check, the report mentions, was received by Clausi in exchange for Bitcoin. The court has ordered him to compensate the watch owner 40,000 dirhams (€3,900).
“He has one month and a few days left in prison,” shared Aghanaj.
According to Clausi’s father, the young man had relocated to Morocco to establish a neobank in Africa.
The Euronews report further mentions that Morocco is tough against illegal cyber activities. 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 the notorious hacker group, ShinyHunters, which is accused of stealing and selling data from a host of major companies.