Criminal Court in Russia Refuses to Recognize Bitcoin as Legal Property, Won’t Help Victim who Lost Nearly 100 BTC

A criminal court in Russia has reportedly rejected a motion to offer restitution to a victim after they lost around 100 Bitcoin (BTC), an amount currently valued at around $910,000.

In 2018, two Russian men impersonating the country’s Federal Security Service (FSB) agents had allegedly kidnapped the victim and then reportedly forced him to hand over 5 million rubles (appr. $90,000) in cash and 99.7 BTC. The kidnappers were sentenced to prison.

However, on June 30, 2020, a Russian court ruled that the stolen Bitcoin (BTC) does not give its owner the same property protection as other traditional assets in the country.

The victim had requested the court to force the criminals to give back the stolen digital currency. However, the court only instructed the thieves to give back the 5 million rubles they stole.

The Russian criminal court said that virtual currencies aren’t recognized as legal tender or property under the current laws. The victim can now try to submit an appeal in the civil court.

While Russian authorities may not want to recognize Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as legal tender or assets, this could create serious problems that may lead to an increase in criminal activity.

These types of rulings may encourage other criminals to steal valuable virtual currencies because they wouldn’t be asked to return the stolen funds. Other jurisdictions like China haven’t introduced crypto-friendly regulations, however, they have consistently maintained, over the years, that Bitcoin and other blockchain-based currencies are the personal property of their rightful owners.

In May 2020, the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court made a public announcement about an appeal involving a Bitcoin (BTC) foreign property damage compensation dispute.

The second Court trial’s investigation into the matter confirmed that Bitcoin may be considered a digital asset. Therefore, it must have full protection under the law, the court ruled.

It added that all Bitcoin acquired via illegal transactions must be returned or compensated at a reduced rate.

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