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Jailed French Crypto ‘Fraudster’ Loses Appeal in Morocco

A statue of Lady Justice, blindfolded and holding a set of scales, against the backdrop of the Moroccan flag.
Source: PromesArtStudioAdobe

A French crypto “fraudster” has had his jail sentence upheld in Morocco after a court found him guilty of using Bitcoin (BTC) to buy luxury goods.

Per the French media outlet BFMTV, the man’s name is Thomas Clausi (21).

Clausi, a native of Moselle in eastern France, was originally jailed for his crimes in 2022.

But he launched an appeal that was overturned this week by the Casablanca Court of Appeal.

Clausi was originally handed an 18-month jail term, as well as a $3.8 million fine.

The appeals court upheld both of these.

Morocco has strict crypto laws and considers all cryptoasset-related transactions to be fraudulent.

The Frenchman was prosecuted for “fraud” and “payment with a foreign currency on Moroccan territory.”

What Did French Crypto ‘Fraudster’ Do Wrong in Morocco?

The court heard that Clausi was convicted on multiple counts.

One of these involved the purchase of a Ferrari for some $442,000 worth of BTC from a French woman in Casablanca.

Another involved a Moroccan who accused Clausi of “having scammed and defrauded him.”

The Moroccan claimant said Clausi had given him a “not sufficient funds (NSF) check in the name of a third party,” as well as BTC, in exchange for “three luxury watches.”

Clausi’s family stated that he had traveled to Morocco in an attempt to “open an African neobank.”

In addition to the fine, Clausi was also ordered to compensate his “victims.”

Clausi’s legal team had attempted to prove that their client was ignorant of Morocco’s strict crypto rules.

Morocco’s Foreign Exchange Office issued a decree on November 2017, explaining that all crypto transactions constituted violations of foreign exchange regulations.

Citizens and visitors were warned they would be subject to jail time and fines if they were found to be trading coins or using them as payment tools.

But this decree has come under fire in recent years.

The government has responded by indicating it may be prepared to ditch the law in favor of fostering a regulated crypto sector.

The Moroccan central bank earlier this year stated that it was ready to unveil a new crypto regulatory bill.

The bank said it had been consulting on the matter with industry representatives.