The spread of Bitcoin as a payment currency and NFTs as digital asset management tools More and more attract the attention of judicial authorities, where there are violations of a concrete criminal nature also through the use of these solutions. It is therefore necessary to return the methods and behaviors we deal with in this context to the bed of rules and regulations.
So it is not the lack of physical advertising Exclusion of order of crimesRather, it is the awareness of the prohibited behavior itself that determines the state’s response and the imposition of sanctions, regardless of the “means” by which one operates. In this sense, the configuration file The crime of washing oneself Administered by the Court of Cassation, with Judgment No. 2868 of January 25, 2022, for Bitcoin purchase transactions conducted against the illegal proceeds and, on the other hand, the investigation and forfeiture activities carried out by the English HMRC – Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in the context of defrauding IVA by seizing NFT as proceeds of crime itself.
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Bitcoin and self-washing
Purchasing cryptocurrencies with illicit proceeds constitutes a crime of self-laundering as it is a financial asset. This is the position taken by the Supreme Court with an order of no. 288/2022. Prohibited behavior, from the point of view of penalties, is defined in Article 648 bis 1 of the Criminal Code, according to which it is punishable by imprisonment from four to twelve years and A fine of between 5,000 and 25,000 euros, any person who uses money, goods or other benefits derived from crime in economic or financial activities. The penalty is two to six years imprisonment and a fine of €2,500 to €12,500 when the offense relates to funds or items resulting from an offense punishable by detention for a maximum period of one year or at least six months. Finally, the penalty increases when the offense is committed while engaging in a professional activity.
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Therefore, the crime of self-laundering is committed only by the fact that the person in question has used assets in economic and financial activities Derived from the previous recycling processRegardless of the desire to impede the determination of the origin of the goods.
The case considered by the Supreme Court relates to the preventive seizure, also equivalent, of profit from the crimes of self-laundering, where the suspect committed the original crime of aiding, abetting and exploiting prostitution, and then transferring the relative profits to foreign companies operating in the sector of buying and selling the so-called “Cryptocurrencies” (in particular Bitcoin), by means of transfers in Euros made by Postepay cards which were mostly addressed to the candidates but also to oneself.
In particular, it was not about the direct purchase of bitcoin by the suspect, but about the transfer by bank transfers in euros of sums of money to foreign companies subsequently charged with changing the received currency (euro) into bitcoin. Thus, the suspect, appealing to the Supreme Court, did not act on his own in the purchase of “virtual” currency, to be understood – according to the term given in the legislative decree of November 21, 2007, n. 231, Article 1, paragraph 2, letter qq), such as a digital representation of value, not issued or guaranteed by a central bank or public authority, and not necessarily linked to a legal tender currency, used as a medium of exchange for the purchase of goods and services or for investment purposes, and their transmission, storage and negotiation electronically .
currency exchange activity, however, It has a financial natureCurrency exchange for foreign companies. which intervened in the purchase of cryptocurrencies, which was also carried out by means of a filter, constituted a serious obstacle to the identification of the applicant as the ultimate beneficiary of the transactions and the effective owner of the bitcoins purchased not by him but by foreign companies who acted as “Cryptocurrency exchangeIn the opinion of the Supreme Court, for purposes of consolidating a crime of self-laundering, the agent need not engage in conduct of using, exchanging or transferring money, goods or other benefits which would be an absolute impediment to determining the criminal origin of themselves, being, on the contrary, sufficient For any activity, tangibly suitable even to impede verification of their origin.With regard to self-washing, the traceability, as a result of investigative activities carried out after the commission of the crime, of transfers of facilities arising from the predicate offense does not exclude the “prior” suitability of the behavior to concretely impede the identification of their criminal origin.
NFT and VAT scam
Finally, on February 13, 2022, HRMC, the British tax authority, confiscated three non-fungible tokens (NFT) as part of a suspected VAT fraud involving 250 alleged fake companies, for approximately £1.4 million. This is the first application of British law that legislates the seizure of NFTs and this is one of those digital tokens that can be identified as certificates of title to virtual or physical assets. NFTs feature a unique digital signature, so they can be bought and sold using traditional currencies or cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin.
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According to HMRC, the suspects used sophisticated methods to try to hide their identities including fake and stolen identities, fake addresses, unregistered prepaid cell phones, VPNs, fake bills, and pretending to be involved in legitimate business. The first takeover of NFT highlights how the use of cryptocurrency equates to money and, as such, could be the subject of a forced investigation and refund by taxpayers.
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