Estonia’s Highest Court Consults Four Government Institutions on Bitcoin Legality


The Supreme Court of Estonia requested in November that four government institutions answer eight questions regarding the legality of bitcoin, following a lawsuit brought by a Dutch citizen over police suppression of the bitcoin trade.

In early 2014, the proprietor of bitcoin trading platform, Otto de Voogd, was ordered by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Estonia’s Police and Boarder Guard to provide information on all of his clients. The operations of the Estonian version of the site was halted in February 2014 as result of what de Voogd perceived as threats and harassment by police.

The Dutch entrepreneur left Estonia but began legal proceedings in Estonian courts to challenge what he believes to be violations of European Union law by the Estonian police. The lawsuit was thrown out of the lower courts but now is under appeal in the country’s Supreme Court.

The court has ordered that Estonia’s Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Interior, the Bank of Estonia and the Financial Supervision Authority to give opinion on the legality of bitcoin and on de Voogd’s case.

The court specifically asks the government institutions the following:

  1. whether bitcoin trading is under the jurisdiction of money laundering and terrorist financing regulations
  2. whether EU law is applicable
  3. whether Estonian law on money laundering and terrorist financing is in conformity with the EU law and with the recommendations of the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
  4. whether bitcoin providers are alternative payment service providers
  5. whether bitcoin traders are just mediators between buyers and sellers or have a “legal obligation and opportunity” to take care and custody of customers’ data
  6. whether exchange providers can transfer ownership of customers’ data
  7. whether inherent bitcoin transaction anonymity requires a reduction in the monitoring process
  8. whether collection of bitcoin customer data is proportionate

De Voog claims to have spent 9000 Euros in his legal fight in the Estonian lower and appeal courts.

By Hans Lombardo,

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