On March 10 Norwegian prosecutors have charged three men with online narcotics sales that stemmed from the Silk Road marketplace. Court officials are now seeking a substantial restitution of 120 bitcoins alongside millions of Norwegian kroner.
Also read: High Tax Slows Bitcoin Development In Norway
Norwegian Prosecutors Demand Bitcoin Payment From Accused Cannabis Dealers
In the summer of 2015 three men were arrested in the greater Oslo region for operating an online drug operation and an indoor cannabis farm. Norwegian police seized a “considerable amount of narcotics” claiming they were being sold on darknet marketplaces including the original Silk Road. Richard Beck Pederson, a prosecutor in the case, told the press the group of men used bitcoins for transactions to give themselves a level of anonymity.
Interestingly the Norwegian prosecutors are seeking 120 bitcoins (US$144,300) and 3.1 million Norwegian kroner ($360,167) for penalties tied to the charges. Beck Pedersen detailed the cannabis dealers were caught selling the bitcoin during the investigation and police have “evidence for the sale in bitcoins.”
The case marks the first time a country’s prosecution department has demanded payment in bitcoin. However, prosecutor Beck Pedersen told the local press the act does not mean the state recognizes bitcoin as legal tender.
“This is in no way an official Norwegian recognition of the digital currency,” Beck Pedersen told local reporters.
Bitcoin in Norway Has Been Considered an Asset and Is Now VAT-Exempt
Norwegian investigators spent over two years on the “challenging” probe said the prosecutor. Beck Pedersen also detailed the country’s prosecutors worked with international law enforcement officials during the case as well. Evidence from the case had shown many links to the Silk Road marketplace before it was shut down in 2013, Beck Pedersen explained.
Norwegian prosecutors did not disclose why they are seeking some of the penalties in bitcoin. The trial against the three men is expected to begin at some point this year, the prosecutor added.
Norway has already stated how the country defines bitcoins under Norwegian law. The Norwegian Tax Administration (NTA) detailed in December of 2013 that the country considers bitcoin an asset and not a form of money. Norwegians at the time were subject to a wealth tax, and when used by merchants bitcoin was also subject to the country’s sales tax regulations.
This year the Norwegian Ministry of Finance asked the NTA to consider bitcoin transactions Value-Added-Tax (VAT) exempt. The country’s tax agency subsequently ruled in favor of this decision this past February and Norwegian bitcoin transactions are now VAT exempt.
What do you think about the Norwegian prosecutors demanding restitution in bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below.
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