The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation overturned the verdict regarding the acquittal of the defendant for legalizing bitcoins by converting them into rubles and transferring them to bank cards. It is reported by RAPSI.
According to the case file, the defendant kept the precursors of narcotic drugs and, as part of an organized group, produced mephedrone on an especially large scale. He received payment in cryptocurrencies, which he then transferred into rubles and sent to the accounts and cards of his cohabitant’s daughter.
The court of first instance found the accused guilty of drug trafficking, but acquitted him in terms of money laundering. The decision was motivated by the fact that the funds converted from bitcoins without introducing them into economic circulation “did not give a legitimate form of ownership of these assets.”
The Deputy Prosecutor General, who filed the cassation appeal, indicated that the accused purposefully carried out these financial transactions and brought more than 8.2 million rubles into legal circulation.
“When making financial transactions, the defendant used banking technologies to avoid the banking control procedure and exclude the possibility of identifying account holders and persons performing these transactions,” the prosecutor’s office added.
This circumstance during interrogations was not denied by the accused himself.
The court of appeal agreed with the decision of the court of first instance to acquit the defendant, but, according to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, in its ruling “expressed extremely contradictory judgments.”
“At first, the court of appeal indicated that “without financial transactions with a criminally obtained cryptocurrency, including the conversion of this virtual asset into rubles or other physical currency, [подсудимый] was deprived of the opportunity to take advantage of the results of his criminal activities, ”however, in the next paragraph of his ruling, he summarized that“ the cashing out of funds did not entail their legalization, ”the highest authority noted.
Referring to the latest version of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, the Supreme Court pointed out that the conversion of cryptocurrencies and their transfer to bank cards of third parties, knowingly for the perpetrator, mask the connection of the property being legalized with the criminal source of its origin. All this testifies to the intention to legalize money.
“Contrary to the conclusions of the courts of the first and appellate instances, for the presence of a crime of money laundering, their mandatory involvement in economic circulation is not required, since liability under this article of the law arises when the very fact of financial transactions is established in order to give a legal form to the possession, use and disposal of funds or other property,” the Supreme Court stressed.
Due to a significant violation of the criminal law that affected the outcome of the case, the court’s verdict regarding the acquittal of the accused on the fact of money laundering cannot be recognized as lawful and justified. The Judicial Board sent this part of the criminal case for a new trial to the Ryazan Regional Court.
Recall that in February 2019, the plenum of the Supreme Court legally prohibited the laundering of income converted from virtual assets. Appropriate amendments were made to the court ruling of 2015 on practice in cases of money laundering.
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