Estonian High Court Asks Government to Clarify Bitcoin Stance

The Estonian Supreme Court has asked the country’s government to provide clarity in an ongoing court case involving bitcoin trading.

Nov 30, 2015 at 8:15 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. UTC

The Estonian Supreme Court has asked the country’s central bank, two of its civil ministries and its top financial regulator to answers questions related to bitcoin as it considers a case on the legality of the digital currency.

The questions focus on the application of anti-money laundering (AML) statutes to bitcoin activities, as well as the broader nature of the financial technology, according to a translation of the court’s 19th November decision. Eesti Pank, the Interior and Finance Ministries, and the Estonian Financial Supervision Authority must respond to the court’s request by 11th January.

The developments follow a lawsuit filed last year by Otto de Voogd, operator of bitcoin trading platform BTC.ee, in the wake of law enforcement pressure. Trading was suspended on the platform in February 2014, a move then attributed to "threats issued by the Estonian police".

As reported by CoinDesk, officials from the Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board had contacted de Voogd, telling him that he was required to provide information on BTC.ee users and attest to his compliance with national law. A representative for the Estonian Police later denied that de Voogd was threatened.

In a Facebook post over the weekend, de Voogd outlined the Supreme Court’s decision and said that the move will "show the true face of the Estonian state when it comes to dealing with truly disruptive innovation that was not created by the state itself".

De Voogd later told CoinDesk:

"It will be interesting to see the answers of these state institutions to the Supreme Court, in particular if they hold on to the harsh and restrictive anti-bitcoin line of the Estonian police and Ministry of Finance."

According to de Voogd, the case may ultimately be referred to the European Court of Justice, the same court that, after a months-long dispute that began in Sweden, ruled that bitcoin trades are exempt from value-added tax (VAT).

Last week’s court decision can be found below (untranslated):

Image via Shutterstock

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