A French crypto enthusiast’s dream ride turned into a legal nightmare in Morocco, leading to jail time and a whopping $3.7 million fine. Thomas Clausi, 21, found himself on the wrong side of Moroccan law when he purchased a luxury car using Bitcoin. The North African country still deems cryptocurrency transactions as illegal, casting a shadow on the young Frenchman’s lavish purchase.
Euronews recently reported that the Casablanca Court of Appeal is upholding Clausi’s conviction, which included charges of fraud and illegal use of cryptocurrency. Clausi’s lawyer, Mohamed Aghanaj, revealed that the final gavel fell last week, underscoring Morocco’s tough stance on cryptocurrency use within its borders.
The trouble began for Clausi in 2021 when he traded a significant amount of Bitcoin, approximately $437,000, for a shiny new Ferrari. Moroccan authorities labeled this as an illicit fund transfer, leading to Clausi’s arrest in December of the same year. Clausi faced charges of “fraud” and “use of foreign currency for payment within Moroccan borders,” and was handed down his sentence and fine in October.
Ironically, while Clausi serves his time, Morocco is recognized as a hotbed for Bitcoin trading in North Africa. Singaporean cryptocurrency provider and aggregator, Triple A, reports that roughly 2.4% of Morocco’s population, about 900,000 individuals, currently possess cryptocurrency despite its illegality.
Shifting gears on the issue, Morocco’s central bank has started to finalize a crypto regulatory framework over a year later. The new regulations aim to provide a legal footing for the burgeoning crypto market within the country. As the wheels of justice turn for Clausi, the gears of change might be shifting for Morocco’s relationship with cryptocurrency.