Frenchman Sent to Moroccan Prison for Using Crypto
By Iaroslava Kramarenko 4962 10 May 2023
A 21-year-old French crypto trader, Thomas Clausi, was fined €3.4 million and sentenced to 18 months in prison for using cryptocurrency, which Moroccan authorities consider illegal.
We've talked before about countries where dealing with cryptocurrency can lead to criminal charges. Morocco is one of those places where digital assets are actually illegal.
Sadly, many tourists and expats don't take local laws seriously enough. And once again, we've seen that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. Thomas Clausi was arrested in the fall of 2021 for using BTC to purchase a luxury car, which Moroccan customs deemed an illegal transaction.
The legal battle against Thomas Clausi began when a French woman living in Casablanca reported him for fraud. She had sold him a Ferrari for €400,000 in cryptocurrency, which he paid in full to her wallet in April 2021 when the BTC rate was at $60,000. However, the woman filed the complaint in July of that same year, when the Bitcoin price had dropped to $30,000, sparking the investigation. Thomas was ultimately convicted in October 2021 for "fraud" and "payment with foreign currency on Moroccan territory".
What made the situation even more interesting was that, by the time of the verdict, the Bitcoin rate had risen again. Nevertheless, the judges weren't swayed, and Thomas was sent to prison in December 2021, where he remains to this day.
If it weren't for Clausi's lawyer trying to get his client out of jail sooner, this case might not have made it into the media. During the hearings, it was revealed that Clausi had also used cryptocurrency to purchase three expensive Swiss watches. As a result, the court not only refused to reduce Clausi's sentence but also ordered him to compensate the owner of the watches 40,000 dirhams (€3,900).
According to Thomas' lawyer, Mohamed Aghannaj, he will remain in prison for another two months. Thomas' father stated that his son moved to Morocco with a plan to create African crypto exchange Africa Pay, and had no idea what consequences his purchases would have.
Truly, our own foolishness often comes at a high price.