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Cryptocurrency did not help Bitcoin drug lord

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Cryptocurrency did not help Bitcoin drug lord

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Cryptocurrency did not help Bitcoin drug lord

The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation overturned the verdict of acquittal regarding the legalization of money earned on mephedrone.

The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation overturned the acquittal regarding the legalization of bitcoins received for the illegal production of drugs. The Judicial Collegium for Criminal Cases of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation considered that the defendant made financial transactions in order to give a legal form to the possession of funds converted from cryptocurrency. Case sent for a new consideration in the Ryazan Regional Court.

According to the case, the defendant kept and produced mephedrone on an especially large scale, having organized a group of people for this purpose. For his activities, he received payment in bitcoins to a virtual wallet, and then converted them into rubles and transferred them to the cards and accounts of his cohabitant’s daughter. The total amount of funds put into legal circulation amounted to more than 8 million rubles.

The court of first instance found the defendant guilty of drug trafficking, but acquitted him on the part of money laundering, believing that bitcoin cashing is not money laundering.

The Deputy Prosecutor General filed a cassation protest against this verdict, stating that the defendant purposefully masked the connection of funds with the criminal source of their origin, using banking technologies that make it possible to avoid control and identification. He recalled that back in 2019, the Plenum of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation classified cryptocurrency as a crime subject under Articles 174 and 174.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation supported the protest of the Deputy Prosecutor General and overturned the acquittal on the part of legalization. The court pointed out that for the existence of a corpus delicti, it is not required that the legalized funds be involved in the economic circulation, but it is sufficient to establish the fact of financial transactions in order to give a lawful form to the possession of funds or other property.

Andrey Tuzov, an expert in criminal law practice, noted that despite the ambiguity of the legal status of cryptocurrency in the Russian Federation, the courts already recognize it as a means of payment and property, especially if it is used in criminal circulation. Tuzov believes that through judicial practice in cases of money laundering, we will soon finally secure the understanding that this is property and that various operations can be carried out with it.

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