A 21-year-old Frenchman, Thomas Claussi, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined $3.7 million for buying a Ferrari with Bitcoin. The sentence was imposed on Claussi in October 2022 by the Court of Appeals in Casablanca, Morocco, and it was upheld by the Supreme Court this month.
Trouble started for Claussi when he paid $436,000 in Bitcoin to buy a Ferrari from a French woman in Casablanca in April 2021. Investigations show that one BTC was valued at more than $60,000 during the purchase of the super-sports car. But in July 2021, the value of Bitcoin dropped to a little over $31,500 and the woman filed a complaint with the police that Claussi defrauded her.
Trading and possessing cryptocurrencies was banned in Morocco in 2019.
Claussi also lost another case in which a Moroccan national accused him of fraud. As it happened, the Moroccan sold three Swiss watches to Claussi – and then the Frenchman arranged to pay someone Bitcoin so that the individual would write a check covering the costs of the wristwatches to the Moroccan seller.
Claussi indeed paid Bitcoin to the third party and the man wrote a check to the watch-seller. But the check bounced and the seller reported to the authorities that he was issued with a fake check. The court ruled that Claussi should pay back $4,200 in local currency to the seller.
Claussi’s lawyer, Mohamed Aghanaj, told the court that the value of Bitcoin had fallen briefly during the time the watches were purchased and that it is customary for cryptocurrencies to fluctuate. But the court held its ground. Aghanaj said the Frenchman had been in custody for a long time and that he will spend about 5-6 weeks in jail to cover for his 18 months prison sentence.