An artist from Latvia is under investigation for allegedly selling NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, to launder money, for which he may get up to 12 years in prison. The authorities have blocked his bank accounts and launched an investigation without even notifying him.
Latvian artist and developer Ilya Borisov is awaiting trial amid accusations he used digital collectibles to launder €8.7 million ($8.8 million), as investigators claim to have established. He denies any wrongdoing and is determined to seek justice in court.
Borisov launched a website under the ‘Art ― Crime’ title, which reveals how the Latvian government froze his accounts without any formal notice. A criminal case was initiated against the artist in February, but he only found out about it in May.
However, Borisov is now prosecuted for large-scale money laundering and may potentially receive up to 12 years in prison. He says the allegations have deeply affected him morally. The artist, a Russian by origin, also fears that Moscow’s military invasion of Ukraine might influence the judges’ decision in his case.
Ilya Borisov emphasized that blockchain technologies create a lot of opportunities for artists like himself and accused regulators of limiting these opportunities to a great extent.
Over the past few years, NFTs have become a popular tool to prove ownership of digital records and assets, especially works of art, music, and video. The global market for non-fungible tokens has been estimated at between $20 billion and $35 billion. Expectations are it will grow even further with one forecast suggesting it may reach $80 billion by 2025.
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