Thursday August 8,2013 : BITCOIN IS OFFICIALLY A CURRENCY?
Texas judge says so
The specialised publication CoinDesk reports that a judge in Texas has ruled that Bitcoin is a currency or form of money, which gives the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission the go-ahead to sue Ponzi scheme operator Trendon Shavers.
US magistrate judge Amos L. Mazzant heard the SEC’s case against Shavers, founder and operator of Bitcoin Savings and Trust (BTCST), formerly known as First Pirate Savings & Trust.
CoinDesk reports that Shavers enticed people to invest in BTCST with the promise of 1 percent interest per day. Some investors suffered losses, totalling 263,104 BitCoins, which equates to around $25 million, based on current exchange rates.
The SEC is claiming that Shavers defrauded investors and that the BTCST investments are classed as securities, as defined by Federal Securities Laws. Shavers, however, argues the BTCST investments are not securities because Bitcoin is not money, nor is it part of anything regulated by the US authorities.
Judge Mazzant ruled: “Bitcoin is a currency or form of money, and investors wishing to invest in BTCST provided an investment of money. … For these reasons, the Court finds that it has subject matter jurisdiction over this matter.”
Constance Choi, general counsel at Payward Inc, told CoinDesk that the ruling signals that state courts and regulators are starting to pay attention to Bitcoin and are beginning to take positions on where it fits within existing legal regimes and asset classes.
“In this case, one judicial authority in Texas appears to have preliminarily classified it as currency or form of money. By labelling it as a ‘currency’, this Texas court is in direct contradiction of the FinCEN guidance, which expressly stated that virtual currencies like bitcoin are not ‘currency’, such as legal tender or fiat currencies,” she pointed out, adding that coming from a relatively low level court, the finding could be subject to overturn by a higher judicial authority.