Brit held in bitcoin laundering scheme could get 5 years in prison

Bitcoin
Bitcoin. Photo: Public Prosecutor / OM

The Public Prosecutor demanded 5 years in prison against a 38-year-old British man accused of laundering around 11.5 million euros in bitcoins between 2014 and 2016. The money likely came from the illegal trade in drugs and other prohibited goods on darkweb markets, the Public Prosecutor said on Wednesday.

According to the Prosecutor, the British man living in Amsterdam earned his money by taking bitcoins from his clients and exchanging them for cash, charging an "unusually high" commission of between 5 and 8 percent. The high commission was the price customers paid for anonymity, the Prosecutor said - the suspect carried part of the risk and was paid royally for it. 

The suspect used his own bank account to exchange the bitcoins, and then withdrew cash from ATMs. Millions of euros were exchanged in this way, the Prosecutor said. The suspect and his spouse earn very little in legal income. 

The Brit is also suspected of cannabis cultivation. The police found numerous photos of cannabis plantations taken at the man's previous home on his computer. "He thought he had seen a gap in the market and jumped into it", the Prosecutor said. "He started with a cannabis plantation, sold the harvest on the darkweb 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 man himself claims that all his customers were honorable citizens and not involved in any form of illegal trade. 

The court will rule early next month. 

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