A 21-year-old French citizen has been sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined €3.4 million for using cryptocurrency, deemed illegal by Morocco, according to court records.

Court records show that Moroccan courts have upheld the 18-month prison sentence given to the French citizen, aged 21, for “fraud” and the “illegal use of cryptocurrency.”

A hardline stance

The Casablanca Court of Appeals recently upheld the conviction of Thomas Clausi, a 21-year-old French citizen, for the illegal use of cryptocurrency and fraud, as reported by Euronews. Clausi’s lawyer, Mohamed Aghanaj, confirmed that the court had affirmed the verdict last week. 

The legal proceedings against Clausi were initiated following allegations of fraud by a resident of Casablanca, who accused Clausi of accepting a bitcoin payment of approximately $437,000 in exchange for a luxury car.

As per the latest updates shared by Aghanaj, Clausi is still serving his sentence in prison and will be for another month.

In addition to the fraud and illegal use charges of cryptocurrency, Clausi faced another complaint from a Moroccan citizen who accused him of purchasing three luxury watches with a bad check signed with the name of a third party, which Clausi obtained through bitcoin.

The court ruled that Clausi must compensate the owner of the watches for a total of 40,000 dirhams (€3,900).

The decision is seen as a clear indication of the Moroccan judiciary’s hardline stance against the use of cryptocurrency within the country.

A leader in bitcoin trading

Interestingly, despite the country’s laws prohibiting its use, Morocco has emerged as the leading North African nation in bitcoin trading in 2021.

Triple A, a Singapore-based cryptocurrency provider and aggregator, estimates that nearly 900,000 Moroccans, which is approximately 2.4% of the country’s population, have invested in cryptocurrencies. 

This trend comes to the forefront even as Porsche’s NFT trading volume continues to touch new heights, with the figures approaching $5 million, despite initial roadblocks and temporary halts in minting.

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