Dutch trader alleges that he was hounded by authorities for small business in virtual currency.
tol.org 27 April 2016
Despite being known as one of the most tech-savvy countries in Europe, Estonia now stands accused of hampering Bitcoin trade. The allegations come from Bitcoin trader Otto de Voogd, a Dutch national who was previously under investigation for irregularities for trading the virtual currency in Estonia.
The Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit dropped the charges against him last week, after de Voogd used his right to remain silent for two years.
His motivation to keep silent, de Voogd told Bitcoin Magazine, stemmed from fears that the information he would have provided could have been used against him in court, especially given charges filed against another Bitcoin trader in Estonia. De Voogd said that his profits from the trade stood at a grand total of 270 euros, and that his yearly trade volume was below the threshold set by the European Union for anti-money laundering reporting.
Despite the country’s reputation for innovation, De Voogd claimed the authorities had made a concerted effort to derail the use of Bitcoin.
“One should act with the same caution one would in Russia, and make sure you have explicit permission to do something before you do anything,” he told Bitcoin Magazine. “Permission-less innovation is not part of their system; you must wait until something is explicitly authorized.”
• Estonia is not the only country in Europe showing wariness toward the virtual currency. While Denmark bans its use completely, Russian users of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies could be prosecuted for money laundering and financial terrorism.
• Still, Estonia is unlikely to lose its e-business friendly reputation. The Baltic country may become the first in Europe to legalize Uber and other ride-sharing services, if a bill introduced in the parliament in February passes.
• In related news, an Estonian man received a U.S. prison sentence of over seven years for infecting more than four million computers with malware as part of a cyber-fraud scheme, according to Reuters.
Compiled by Ioana Caloianu
Hi-tech Estonia Unfriendly to Bitcoin?