The court in Den Bosch sentenced a 42-year-old man from Zaandam to seven years in prison on Friday for trading illegal cryptocurrency worth a total of more than 11 million dollars, fraud, ecstasy transports and other drug-related matters.
The suspect was arrested in March 2020 in the context of another drugs and money laundering investigation. When searching his home, police found several notebooks in the ceiling of the bathroom. In one of those booklets, the suspect had written down five rows of twelve individual words. These turned out to be so-called “mnemonic phrases”, for opening or restoring a “cryptocurrency wallet”. About 3.5 million dollars worth of transactions took place in one of the 5 wallets.
As a result, a follow-up investigation was initiated into the suspect. According to the court, this showed that he traded cryptocurrencies around the world as an intermediary between January 2017 and March 2022. This involved a total of 780 transactions with an estimated value of more than 11 million dollars. The suspect received a very high commission per transaction, namely 4 to 6 percent of the amount traded.
A common method was that large sums of cash were handed over to the suspect, and he then converted this cash into cryptocurrency. According to the court, it is inevitable that this involved amounts of money from criminal activities. Through his actions, the suspect played a facilitating role in moving, hiding and disguising these large sums of criminal money.
The man himself had hardly any legal income or assets during that period. As of 2018, he no longer received a salary and his bank account was largely fueled by unexplained cash deposits. In addition, his spending pattern does not match his legal income. For example, the police found a considerable amount of luxury goods in his home, he regularly flew and he bought real estate in Spain with cash. He could give no plausible explanation for all this.
According to the court, the man was guilty of habitual money laundering for years.
The suspect also spent more than a year arranging ecstasy pills, organizing the smuggling of hard drugs to Central and South America and setting up transport lines between those parts of the world and Rotterdam/Antwerp. He put various people in touch with each other and discussed transport, methods of hiding, prices and quantities of hard drugs. In addition, he actually sent several shipments of ecstasy to Colombia.
In addition, the suspect was guilty of fraud by being able to conclude a rental agreement for a home using, among other things, false documents.
When determining the sentence, the court takes into account that the suspect has previously been convicted for similar offenses, but that he nevertheless continued his criminal activities.