A US judge has ruled that Bitcoin is a type of money, rejecting the efforts of a defendant to get charges related to his involvement with a virtual currency exchange dismissed.
According to Reuters, Anthony Murgio had argued that two of the eight criminal charges he faces in connection with his alleged operation of Coin.mx should be dismissed because Bitcoin does not qualify as "funds".
But US District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan rejected the bid, writing: "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."
The decision is in line with similar rulings from US judges in 2013 and 2014 but at odds with a July decision from Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler, who threw out charges against Michell Espinoza, who had been accused of illegally transmitting and laundering $1500 in Bitcoin, saying that it "has a long way to go before it is the equivalent of money".
Murgio was charged with the operation of Coin.mx last year, with prosecutors saying that it was an unlicensed exchange.
Authorities say that the exchange was owned by Gery Shalon, who, with two others, is also accused of hacking into a host of major financial institutions, including JPMorgan Chase, and stealing the data of millions of people.
The information was allegedly used for pump-and-dump stock manipulation schemes, with spam emails sent out to the data theft victims pushing penny stocks to drive up prices ahead of sell-offs that made the men tens of millions of dollars in profits.