A UK man living in Amsterdam is facing up to five years in prison for allegedly helping people by exchanging fiat cash for bitcoin which was used to buy drugs. He supposedly started by growing cannabis himself but soon found the bitcoin business to be more profitable by itself.
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Amsterdam Bitcoin Mule
The Dutch Public Prosecutor has demanded that the court give a 38-year-old British man five years in prison for allegedly laundering about €11.5 million in bitcoin between 2014 and 2016. This money is suspected as originating from illegal drugs deals and the trade of other prohibited goods on dark web marketplaces, the Public Prosecutor said on Wednesday.
According to the allegations, the man living in Amsterdam profited by taking bitcoins from his clients and exchanging them for fiat cash, charging an “unusually high” commission of between 5 to 8 percent. This hefty commission was the price customers paid for anonymity, the Prosecutor said – the suspect carried part of the risk and was paid handsomely for it.
The suspect allegedly used his personal bank account to exchange the bitcoin, and then withdrew cash from ATMs for his clients. Millions of euros were exchanged in this way, the Prosecutor said. The suspect and his spouse earn very little in otherwise legal income, the Netherlands Times reported.
More Profitable Than Growing Weed
The British man is also suspected of growing cannabis plants as the Dutch police allegedly found plenty of plantations photo on his computer at his previous home. “He thought he had seen a gap in the market and jumped into it”, the Public Prosecutor said. “He started with a cannabis plantation, sold the harvest on the dark web and was paid in bitcoins. Soon he noticed that he no longer needed the weed to make a substantial turnover and a fine profit.”
The accused man himself still proclaims his innocence and claims that all his customers were honorable citizens who were not involved in any form of illegal trade. The Dutch court is expected to deliver its verdict in early March.
Does five years sound excessive for such a victimless crime, if proven? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
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