Russia is looking forward to legalise cryptocurrency after this incident....
According to Russian media, the City Court of St. Petersburg has acknowledged a significant sum of cryptocurrency handed over by the victim in an extortion case as a form of payment. The verdict is described as a precedent by the prosecutor's office in Russia's second-largest city.
Two Russian residents were sentenced to nine and seven years in prison for extorting 5 million rubles (almost $90,000) in cash and 55 million rubles (nearly $1 million) in digital assets from another person under a strict regime.
The St. Petersburg City Court has acknowledged cryptocurrencies as a form of payment during the trial, according to the crypto website of a Russian business news portal. The verdict is a first, according to authorities, because the Russian government has yet to decide on the legal status of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
One of the offenders, Pyotr Piron, introduced himself to the victim, G.A. Shemet, as a Federal Security Service officer four years ago. According to the story, he threatened Shemet with criminal prosecution in order to extract money from him in fiat and cryptocurrencies.
Piron solicited the help of an associate, Yevgeny Prigozhin, a former employee of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs because Shemet did not think Piron was a security agent and refused to give him the monies.
They informed Shemet that a criminal probe against his alleged unlawful bitcoin circulation would be begun. They organized a bogus arrest of the crypto owner in the summer of 2018, and he handed over his fiat cash and crypto cache under threat of torture.
The plundered cryptocurrency was not taken into consideration in the city court's initial verdict. The ruling said that cryptocurrency "is not a form of payment on Russian Federation territory, so it cannot be considered as a topic of civil rights and a crime."
Following an appeal, a superior court determined that cryptocurrencies can still be used as a form of payment and remanded the matter back to the first instance court. The city court issued an amended judgment that included the digital cash without changing the conditions of the offenders' sentences.
This comes after a district judge in St. Petersburg authorized law enforcement personnel to seize stolen cryptocurrency in another criminal case earlier this month. Investigators had requested the seizure of a suspect's two dozen cryptocurrency wallets, which contained 1 billion rubles in Ethereum.
Many investors regard digital currency as a mode of payment, which implies that there is a slight risk of fraud as well. However, many governments still do not recognize cryptocurrency as a form of payment, therefore they will not include any legal provisions for it. This is an incident that highlights the need for the government to legalize cryptocurrency adoption and integrate cryptocurrency into law provisions to combat extortion and other illegal acts.