West Virginia bureaucrats are moving forward to define bitcoin and other digital currencies with an anti-money laundering (AML) bill. The state’s latest House Bill 2585 will add bitcoin to the regions’ AML statutes defining virtual currencies as a ‘monetary instrument.’
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Cryptocurrency May be Added to West Virginia’s Monetary Instruments Definitions
West Virginia is headed in the same direction as Florida as the state’s House representatives are pushing for new bitcoin AML regulations. West Virginia House Bill 2585 will now be reviewed by Governor Jim Justice for his approval. In essence, the bill gives a legal definition to the new technologies that constitute as monetary instruments, most notably instruments such as bitcoin operating “independently of a central bank.” House Bill 2585 states:
The purpose of this bill is to create criminal offenses relating to money laundering. The bill specifies two new felonies relating to: Laundering criminal proceeds through financial transaction; and transportation, transmission, or transfer of criminal proceeds. The bill also provides for the forfeiture of proceeds involved or traceable to the laundering.
Awaiting the Governor’s Approval
Monetary instruments are traditionally defined as fiat currency and checks, but will include gift cards, prepaid cards, and cryptocurrency, under the newly revised statutes if approved. The bill has passed in the House by a 78–21 vote and the legislation also passed unanimously during the Senate hearing. If the bill becomes law after the governor’s approval, West Virginians caught laundering funds using bitcoin will be subject to felonies and forfeiture.
“‘Cryptocurrency’ means digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds,” explains the West Virginia Bill.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin Once Called Bitcoin a Dangerous Currency Harming Hard-Working Americans
The bill is very much like the new proposed legislation introduced in Florida recognizing bitcoin as a monetary instrument. West Virginian bitcoin proponents may get worrisome if the bill is approved by Governor Jim Justice due to the opinions of lawmakers within the state. For instance a few years ago the West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin wrote a letter to regulators asking for bitcoin to be banned.
“The clear ends of Bitcoin for either transacting in illegal goods and services or speculative gambling make me wary of its use,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va) wrote in his letter back then. “I urge the regulators to work together, act quickly, and prohibit this dangerous currency from harming hard-working Americans.”
West Virginia Joins the Many U.S. Regions Preparing Bitcoin Regulation in 2017
Many states are ramping up efforts to regulate bitcoin and gain some control over its use in regards to money laundering abuse. Some states are merely adding cryptocurrency to the state’s monetary instrument and taxation definitions, while other states like California are preparing business licensing legislation as well.
What do you think about West Virginia House Bill 2585? Let us know in the comments below.
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