A US Federal court has categorized Bitcoin as a “money” under the Washington, D.C., Money Transmitters Act (MTA).
A US Federal court would not discharge criminal charges placed versus Larry Dean Harmon, the operator of a clandestine Bitcoin trading platform, for running an unlicensed money transmitting business under D.C. law and for laundering money under federal law—because Bitcoin is a form of money pursuant to Act. Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell.
On Friday, July 24, Act. Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell wrote for the US District Court of Colombia, that money is specified as “a medium of exchange, method of payment, or store of value,” before adding, “Bitcoin is these things.”
The judgment to label Bitcoin as “money” was made as the court rejected the motion by Larry Dean Harmon’s defense to reject criminal charges of operating an illegal-money-transmission—arguing that Bitcoin is not money under the MTA which meant his business could not have done anything illegal under US regulation.
What’s in store for Bitcoin?
The ruling in the US District Court of Columbia is not expected to have much impact on how Bitcoin is perceived in the conventional market. The interpretation does, however, further offer standards on how the US Courts regulate cryptocurrency in money transmissions and how Bitcoin will be managed by federal and state officials in the context of anti-money laundering.
Peter Van Valkenburgh, Director of Research at Coin Center told Bloomberg Law, that the district court’s decision means that Bitcoin is only managed as money in the context of D.C. money transmission law. He said, “These cases pop up all the time because nearly every state has its own definition of money transmission.”
Pursuant to official indictment, Harmon’s platform was positioned on the Darknet and was allegedly reported as a Silk Road type of service, which given a way to mask the purchase of drugs, guns, and other illegal transactions from law enforcement. The platform was allegedly used to exchange the corresponding to around $311 million dollars between 2014 and 2017.
The court has also seized 160 Bitcoins from Harmon and has also refused his request to have them issued as there is a very high probability that the funds required were leveraged in illegal activities.