Moroccan prosecutors have secured the conviction of 21-year-old French citizen Thomas Clausi for making illegal digital currency transactions in the North African country.
Euronews reported that the Casablanca Court of Appeal upheld the judgment against Clausi on fraud charges violating Moroccan law. Authorities confirm that Clausi broke the rules by paying for a Ferrari with BTC worth €400,000 ($437,000).
Apart from the charge of “payment with foreign currency on Morrocan soil,” the prosecution slammed fraud charges against Clausi following a complaint by a French citizen living in Casablanca. The trial court handed down an 18-month prison sentence on Clausi and a steep fine of €3.4 million ($3.7 million), all of which were upheld by the appellate court.
In a separate case, Clausi was accused of defrauding a Moroccan citizen via a dud check in the name of a third party for the purchase of three luxury watches. Authorities ordered Clausi to pay restitution of nearly $4,000 to the watch trader.
Mohamed Aghanaj, attorney to Clausi, revealed that his client has almost served out his sentence, and it appears that there will be no appeals on the matter.
“He has one month and a few days left in prison,” Aghanaj remarked. Clausi’s father disclosed that his son moved to North Africa, intending to create a neo-bank to offer financial services on the continent.
The appellate court’s decision clearly indicates that Morocco shows little signs of changing its stance toward digital currencies. Presently, digital currencies are considered illegal in Morocco, and transacting with the asset class can result in the payment of fines or even jail time.
However, data from Singaporean on-chain firm Triple A revealed that nearly 2.4% of Moroccan citizens possess digital currencies—a staggering 900,000 individuals. The country ranks as the leading hub for BTC trading among North African countries, surpassing Egypt, Algeria, and Tunisia.
Inching toward legalization
In early 2023, Morocco’s legislature announced its intention to introduce a new legal regime for digital currencies, touted to give legal flavor to the asset class. The bill defines digital currencies within the context of the Moroccan financial industry for the protection of investors.
Abdellatif Jouahiri, Governor of the country’s central bank, disclosed that the bill was drafted in consultation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Insiders suggest that central bank authorities hope to model the framework after jurisdictions like France, Sweden, and Switzerland.
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