West Virginia lawmakers considers criminalizing bitcoin money laundering

Regulation | February 27, 2017 By:

Legislators in West Virginia have introduced a new bill aiming to create criminal offenses relating to money laundering with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

West Virginia House Bill 2585 updates the state’s money laundering statutes in several ways, including the addition of a definition for “cryptocurrency”, which it then includes in the state’s definition of a “monetary instrument”.

The bill states, “laundering through financial transactions” and “transportation, transmission, or transfer of proceeds” are two areas set to receive additional legislation.

“‘Cryptocurrency’ means digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds and which operates independently of a central bank.”

The definition of monetary instruments is stated as follows:

““Monetary instruments” means coin or currency of the United States or of any other country, travelers’ checks, personal checks, bank checks, gift cards, prepaid credit cards, money orders, cryptocurrency, investment securities in bearer form or otherwise in such form that title thereto passes upon delivery, and negotiable instruments in bearer form or otherwise in such form that title thereto passes upon delivery.”

This means that bill seeks to make it a felony to launder money using cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. The measure is getting strong support from members of the legislature, with the signing up of 11 sponsors and co-sponsors. It has been sent to the West Virginia House Judiciary Committee for further deliberation.