Buying a car with Bitcoin gets $3.7M fine, prison time in Morocco

A crypto user who purchased a luxury car with Bitcoin (BTC) has faced a sentence of 18 months in prison and a $3.7 million fine in Morocco, which still considers the use of crypto as an illegal act. 

A recent report by Euronews has stated that the Casablanca Court of Appeal has upheld the conviction of Thomas Clausi, a 21-year-old French citizen, on charges of fraud and illegal use of cryptocurrency.

According to Clausi’s lawyer, Mohamed Aghanaj, the court confirmed the verdict last week. This decision indicates that the Moroccan judicial system is taking a strong stance against cryptocurrency use in the country.

Using BTC to purchase a Ferrari resulted in Clausi’s arrest in 2021, as Moroccan customs deems the use of cryptocurrency to be an unlawful transfer of funds. Clausi was imprisoned in December 2021 on charges of “fraud” and “use of foreign currency for payment within Moroccan borders,” with a prison sentence and a fine which was handed down in October of the same year.

The legal case against Clausi began after a woman, who lived in Casablanca, accused him of “fraud” after exchanging the luxury car for a Bitcoin payment of around $437,000. 

According to Aghanaj, Clausi still has a month left to serve in prison.

Related: Porsche NFT trading volume nears $5M despite launch woes, minting halt

Despite its illegal status in the country, Morocco was hailed as the number one in BTC trading across North Africa in 2021. According to Triple A, a Singaporean cryptocurrency provider and aggregator, about 0.9 million individuals, equivalent to approximately 2.4% of Morocco’s entire population, currently possess cryptocurrency.

More than a year later, the country has started to finalize a crypto regulatory framework that will legally define crypto within its market according to its central bank.

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