Using cryptocurrency is a totally ordinary act in many countries around the world. Not in Morocco, where it is illegal and can result in heavy jail time. A 21-year-old Frenchman was sentenced to 18 months in prison and a heavy fine in Casablanca, Morocco. Thomas Clausi is accused by the courts of having … bought a car with Bitcoin.
18 months in jail for paying for a car
Doing a transaction can be dangerous in some countries. A young French entrepreneur learned this the hard way.
Thomas Clausi, a 21-year-old Frenchman was found guilty of illegal use of cryptocurrency and fraud. A court in the Moroccan city of Casablanca sentenced him to 18 months in prison and a fine of about 3.4 million Euros.
Thomas Clausi was detained in Morocco since December 23, 2021 following two complaints.
The first complaint was brought by a French woman living in Casablanca. This woman had sold her luxury car to Thomas Clausi for a value of 400 000 Euros. The young man had fully paid the price of the Ferrari. The problem is that he did it in Bitcoin, which is illegal in the Kingdom of Morocco.
In addition, Thomas Clausi was also prosecuted for another case. The young man was accused of fraud by a Moroccan citizen. The plaintiff accused the young man of giving him a bad check in exchange for three watches. Thomas Clausi had obtained this check from a third party in exchange for bitcoins.
In the Kingdom of Morocco, making transactions in cryptocurrency is punishable.
Indeed, Article 339 of the Moroccan penal code punishes from one to five years in prison and a fine of 500 to 20,000 dirhams “the manufacture, issue, distribution, sale or introduction into the territory of the Kingdom of monetary signs whose purpose is to substitute or replace legal tender”.
Thomas Clausi pleads his innocence and accuses his own ignorance
Throughout his trial, Thomas Clausi pleaded ignorance of Moroccan cryptocurrency law. The young man even made it known that the transactions were made in France, a country that does not condemn cryptocurrency transactions. As proof of his good faith, the young man even said he was willing to return the car.
I didn’t know that the use of cryptocurrency was prohibited in Morocco. And I especially insist on the fact that all these transactions were made in France.Thomas Clausi in front of the judge.
Regarding the case of the bad check opposing him to a Moroccan, Thomas Clausi pleads ignorance once again. The young man told the judge that he did not know that the check was bad. Moreover, Thomas Clausi has already returned 2 watches and is about to return the third. It is a proof of good faith insisted his lawyer.
The legal troubles that Thomas Clausi is facing on the payment side (for the fraud obviously we are not close to the case and therefore we will not pronounce) are revolting while states like El Salvador and Central African Republic legalize Bitcoin. This case is also a reminder of the need for investors to educate themselves on the legal regime of crypto in the states where they stay. Thomas Clausi has appealed his conviction. May his petition result in the reversal of this first judgment.
I dream of a world where every citizen has total control over themselves, including their finances. I believe that Bitcoin is one of the tools that will achieve this revolution. Since 2019, I am learning about this cryptocurrency and spreading the word around.