The anti-money laundering bill concerning bitcoin Florida legislators just passed via an appropriations committee has been approved May 6 by both houses. The only remaining step in the process is for Florida’s governor to sign it into law, in which case it will go into full effect.
The intent of the bill is to prevent money-launderers from using bitcoin to hide funds generated from illicit activities. Florida legislators believe money launderers and other cyber criminals have been taking advantage of antiquated laws. They wanted to update them in the hopes of thwarting and undermining online financial crimes. In this regard, they have decided to call bitcoin a “monetary instrument.”
The Miami Herald article quoted one of the law makers,
‘Cyber criminals have taken advantage of our antiquated laws for too long,’ said House Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, who sponsored the bill. ‘Bitcoin bypasses the traditional banking system, and our state’s laws simply had not caught up to the upsurge in criminality in the world of cybercurrency.’
Case Dismissal in Florida
Jamie Redman, writing for bitcoin.com, covered the reasons why Florida lawmakers have come down so hard on bitcoin’s alleged use in cyber crimes.
Last year a “money laundering” case was dismissed by a judge, because bitcoin was defined as property rather than money. The case involved a man named Michel Espinoza who sold $1,500 worth of Bitcoin to an undercover cop.
Redman said, “Espinoza’s case was dismissed because the judge considered bitcoins as a form of property. Miami-Dade officials are not pleased with the result of the Espinoza trial, and the state is appealing the judge’s decision.”
Bitcoin Legal Quagmire
The overarching theme across the United States with bitcoin is legislators do not know how to properly define it. They cannot decide whether to call it a money or commodity. This misunderstanding has led to a situation where people have been able to successfully use bitcoin to “launder money.”
The IRS has officially said that bitcoin is property or a commodity.
Will Florida politicians effectively stamp out crypto-based money laundering? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock
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