Monday, September 19th came with news that was surprising for many. U.S. Federal Judge Alison Nathan, from New York, stated that Bitcoin can be qualified as money, which opposed a previous statement given by a judge from Florida. The decision is linked to a criminal case against hacking attacks. Nathan rejected a bid to dismiss two charges against Anthony Murgio and his alleged operation of Coin.mx, which has been found to be an unlicensed bitcoin exchange by prosecutors.
Murgio’s main argument to prove his innocence was the fact that bitcoins weren’t qualified as money or funds and, thus, the federal law that prohibited operations of unlicensed money transmitting businesses shouldn’t apply to them. Yet, the judge refuted this, stating that the digital currency actually does meet the definition of funds:
“Bitcoins are funds within the plain meaning of that term, Bitcoins can be accepted as a payment for goods and services or bought directly from an exchange with a bank account. They therefore function as pecuniary resources and are used as a medium of exchange and a means of payment.”
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Judge Alison Nathan wasn’t the first one to say that Bitcoins are an actual form of funding, as in 2014, judge Jed Rakoff also stated that the virtual currency can be considered money, while working on an unrelated case. Judge Nathan also made it clear that this decision didn’t address other six criminal counts that Murgio faces, stating:
“Anthony Murgio maintains his innocence and looks forward to clearing his name at his upcoming trial.”
Not a one man show
Murgio was charged last year over the operation of the exchange Coin.mx. In April, prosecutors charged his father with participating in bribery, related to supporting the exchange. It’s been said by authorities that Coin.mx is owned by Gery Shalon, an Israeli who was charged with computer hacking and fraud. The latter is said to have targeted a dozen companies, such as J.P. Morgan, and exposing personal information of more than 100 million people.
The alleged scheme generated hundreds of millions of dollars of profit through pumping up stock prices, online casinos, money laundering, and other illegal activity, according to prosecutors on the case. Shalon has pleaded not guilty and has hired new lawyers, while being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.
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