A recent court case in Washington D.C. saw a man prosecuted on multiple charges for running a Bitcoin mixer (BTC), a method of hiding Bitcoin transactions.
The court sentenced the defendant to three charges in December 2019, including operating an unlicensed money transfer business, as a July 24 court document revealed.
The document stated the following:
„After examining the relevant statutes, case law and other sources, the court concludes that Bitcoin is money under the MTA and that Helix, as described in the indictment, was an ‚unlicensed money transfer business‘ under applicable federal law.
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Although this particular instance appears to be a ruling in favor of classifying Bitcoin as money, the current law requires something about money transfer when it comes to Bitcoin, even though the currency is not technically under a currency classification.
The defendant operated a Bitcoin blending service
Larry Dean Harmon, the defendant in this case, allegedly ran a Bitcoin mixing business, called Helix, on the dark web. Such a mixer hampered the data around Bitcoin transactions, making them difficult to track, the court document detailed.
Harmon saw approximately 354,468 BTCs (worth approximately $3.4 billion at the time of this publication) flow through its business between 2014 and 2017, the document said.
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The D.C. courts charged Harmon with three separate illegal acts: conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, operating an unlicensed money transfer business, and engaging in unlicensed money transfer business.
The authorities did not technically classify Bitcoin differently
Harmon lobbied against two of the charges, positing both claims as false, although no dismissal of the charges was granted.
„The motion to dismiss raised two novel questions: Is Bitcoin Lifestyle ‚money‘ for the purposes of the D.C. MTA?“ the document said. „Was Helix, which functioned as a Bitcoin mixer, an ‚unlicensed money transfer business‘?“
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The ruling seems to favor the classification of Bitcoin as money, although, in reality, the move simply establishes the need for crypto currency exchanges to have money transfer licenses. Many jurisdictions in the U.S. already require this license.