A 21-year-old Frenchman named Thomas Clausi was recently sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined $3.7 million by a Moroccan court for buying a Ferrari using Bitcoin. This decision was made in line with the Moroccan government’s strict stance against cryptocurrency.
Background of the Case
According to a report from Euronews.next, Clausi purchased the Ferrari sports car from a French woman living in Casablanca for a Bitcoin payment worth 400,000 euros in 2021. The woman subsequently filed a complaint accusing the French of fraud.
Another Moroccan citizen also submitted a separate complaint, claiming that Clausi used a fraudulent check in the name of someone else to purchase three of his watches using Bitcoin.
The Casablanca Court of Appeals upheld Clausi’s sentence earlier this month. Although the original sentence was 18 months, he will only serve a little over a month in jail to complete his sentence. The court also ordered him to repay the Moroccan citizen for the watches he allegedly bought using a fraudulent check.
Morocco’s Cryptocurrency Ban
Morocco banned the use of cryptocurrencies for payments in 2017 back due to concerns regarding the lack of regulation, its volatility, and the potential use of digital assets for illicit activities, including money laundering and terrorism financing. The Moroccan government believes that cryptocurrencies pose a significant risk to the country’s financial system and may undermine the Moroccan dirham, the national currency. As a result, the use of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, is strictly prohibited in the country.
The country has since taken strict actions against those who violate the law. Clausi’s case is a clear indication that the Moroccan government is sending a message to everyone who plans to use digital assets under its watch.
Thoughts on the Issue
Clausi’s imprisonment highlights the risks of using cryptocurrency in countries where it is illegal. While digital assets offer anonymity and convenience, users should be aware of the legal implications of their actions.
Despite the government’s hard stance against cryptocurrencies, Morocco ranks 14th in the world in terms of cryptocurrency adoption based on five different factors, according to a 2022 Global Crypto Adoption Index by Chainalysis.
Challenging the legislation that bans the use of cryptocurrencies in Morocco can be a difficult and complex process. However, here are some possible ways this legislation can be challenged:
1. Lobbying the Government
Those who oppose the ban can lobby the government to consider a more favorable stance towards cryptocurrencies. This involves convincing government officials on the benefits of digital assets, highlighting their potential for innovation and growth in the economy, and promoting responsible usage.
2. Legal Challenges
Individuals or groups who believe that the ban violates their constitutional rights can challenge the legislation in court. This involves filing a lawsuit that argues the ban is unconstitutional in some way, seeking a court order to lift the ban, or filing an appeal if the lower court decision is unfavorable.
3. International Pressure
International organizations, such as the United Nations or the International Monetary Fund, can put pressure on Morocco to lift the ban on cryptocurrencies. Countries with more favorable regulations towards cryptocurrencies can also encourage Morocco to reconsider its stance through diplomatic channels.
4. Develop Alternative Payment Systems
Businesses and individuals can develop alternative payment systems that can circumvent the ban on the use of cryptocurrencies in Morocco. While this may not be a direct challenge to the ban, it can create a more favorable environment for digital assets and put pressure on the government to reconsider its position.
5. Public Awareness Campaigns
Those who oppose the ban can also launch public awareness campaigns to educate the public about cryptocurrencies and their potential benefits. This includes engaging with the media, holding public forums, and using social media platforms to reach a wider audience and promote the responsible use of cryptocurrencies.
Giancarlo is an economist by profession with a career spanning nearly two decades. His professional journey has seen him assume vital roles in various government and private organizations such as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Megaworld Corporation, and the China Banking Corporation in the Republic of the Philippines.
In addition to his civic and corporate pursuits, his forward-thinking approach has led him to manage several prominent websites in the banking and finance sector, notably the Australia-based RateChoice, where he immersed himself in the world of emerging financial technologies and where he found particular interest in Bitcoin all the way back to 2013.
Prior to his addition to Blockzeit’s dynamic team, he held an essential role as Project Manager for initiatives encompassing blockchain, stablecoin, mining, special economic zone development, and iGaming. This noteworthy chapter in his career unfolded under the auspices of InPlan Consultancy Services, Inc., the think-tank of IMPERO Consortium Management Corporation headquartered in Manila, Philippines, and Tokyo, Japan. InPlan, led by a distinguished retired Cabinet member of the Philippines, collaborates directly with IMPERO’s core management team, contributing to strategic planning and business development endeavors.