Reuters informs that a federal judge acknowledged bitcoin as money in a decision on a criminal case over hacking attacks against JPMorgan Chase & Co and other companies. The case is U.S. v Murgio et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 15-cr-00769.
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan rejected a bid to dismiss two charges related to operation of Coin.mx.
Anthony Murgio, who is allegedly accused of operation of Coin.mx, an unlicensed bitcoin exchange, claimed to dismiss two charges. He stated that bitcoin did not qualify as “funds” under the federal law prohibiting the operation of unlicensed money transmitting businesses.
However, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan rejected a bid saying that 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.”
Nathan clarified that the decision did not address six other criminal counts that Murgio faces.
Brian Klein, a lawyer for Murgio, expressed his disagreement with the decision: “Anthony Murgio maintains his innocence and looks forward to clearing his name at his upcoming trial”.
Last year, Murgio was accused of the operation of Coin.mx. In April, prosecutors charged his father Michael with participating in bribery aimed at supporting it.
According to the investigation, Coin.mx belonged to Gery Shalon, an Israeli man, who operated the unlicensed bitcoin exchange together with two others. All three were charged with running a sprawling computer hacking and fraud scheme targeting a dozen companies. JPMorgan turned out to become one of the victims as well as personal data of more than 100 million people.
Reportedly, the criminal scheme created by Shalon and his partners generated hundreds of millions of dollars of profit through pumping up stock prices, online casinos, money laundering and other illegal activity.
Shalon has pleaded not guilty. Last month, he hired new lawyers and is going to get permission to replace lawyers who joined the case in June. Now, he is held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.
Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States, has focused on the blockchain technology and together with Digital Asset Holdings started a trial blockchain project aimed at adoption of the technology to the banking industry. JP Morgan has already attracted 2,200 clients in the UK and Japan to make transactional testing as a part of its blockchain program.