Bitcoin is money, U.S. judge says in case tied to JPMorgan hack

Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:08pm EDT
 
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By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bitcoin qualifies as money, a federal judge ruled on Monday, in a decision linked to a criminal case over hacking attacks against JPMorgan Chase & Co and other companies.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan rejected a bid by Anthony Murgio to dismiss two charges related to his alleged operation of Coin.mx, which prosecutors have called an unlicensed bitcoin exchange.

Murgio had argued that bitcoin did not qualify as "funds" under the federal law prohibiting the operation of unlicensed money transmitting businesses.

But the judge, like her colleague Jed Rakoff in an unrelated 2014 case, said the virtual currency met that definition.

"Bitcoins are funds within the plain meaning of that term," Nathan wrote. "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."

The decision did not address six other criminal counts that Murgio faces, Nathan wrote.

Brian Klein, a lawyer for Murgio, said he disagreed with the decision.

"Anthony Murgio maintains his innocence and looks forward to clearing his name at his upcoming trial," he added.   Continued...

 
A sticker reading "Bitcoin accepted here" is displayed at the entrance of the Stadthaus town hall in Zug, Switzerland, August 30, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann