Central African Republic Court Blocks Citizenship Purchases With New Crypto

Central African Republic top court blocks purchases with new cryptocurrency
Central African Republic top court blocks purchases with new cryptocurrency

Central African Republic's Constitutional Court on Monday ruled that the purchase of citizenship, "e-residency" and land using a cryptocurrency the government launched last month was unconstitutional.

The "Sango Coin" went on sale on July 21 despite a sharp fall in bitcoin prices during recent months, and doubts over the project's viability in a poorly connected and war-torn country.

Under the initiative, foreign investors would have been able to buy citizenship for $60,000 worth of crypto - with the equivalent Sango Coins held as collateral for five years - and "e-residency" for $6,000, held for three years, according to the Sango website.

A 250 metre square plot of land had also been listed as $10,000, with the Sango Coins locked away for a decade.

But the country's top court deemed those purchases "unconstitutional", arguing among other reasons that nationality did not have a market value and that residency required a physical stay in Central African Republic (CAR), a decree showed.

The impact on the Sango Coin initiative was not immediately clear.

Government spokesman Serge Djorie told Reuters he did not have a response to the ruling.

CAR, one of the world's poorest countries, became the first in Africa to make bitcoin legal tender in April - raising eyebrows among cryptocurrency experts and prompting the International Monetary Fund to warn it was not a "panacea" for the continent's challenges.

President Faustin-Archange Touadera has defended the Sango Coin as a solution to financial exclusion that will facilitate investment in CAR's vast mineral resources.

But sales of the initial $21 million on offer have been slow, with just over 5% of the target bought in the hours after its launch.