Add West Virginia to the growing list of U.S. states actively working to ensure that digital currencies like Bitcoin are included in their states’ anti-money-laundering laws. With judges and others questioning whether existing AML legislation can be applied in cases involving cryptocurrencies, state lawmakers have been rushing to modify statutes to meet the challenge. WV lawmakers have now passed a bill that criminalizes the use of digital currency in any money-laundering scheme.
The measure, House Bill 2585, effectively updates the West Virginia anti-money-laundering laws to ensure that digital currencies are recognized as monetary instruments. In summarizing the bill’s intent, the proposed law’s text states that:
“The purpose of this bill is to create criminal offenses relating to money laundering. The bill specifies two new felonies relating to: (i) Laundering criminal proceeds through financial transaction; and (ii) transportation, transmission, or transfer of criminal proceeds. The bill also provides for the forfeiture of proceeds involved or traceable to the laundering.”
The bill defines cryptocurrency as:
“digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, and which operate independently of a central bank.”
If the measure is signed by Governor Jim Justice, monetary instruments covered by the text of the money laundering statute will include “coin or currency of the United States or of any other country, travelers’ checks, personal checks, bank checks, gift cards, prepaid credit cards, money orders, cryptocurrency, investment securities in bearer form or otherwise in such form that title thereto passes upon delivery, and negotiable instruments in bearer form or otherwise in such form that title thereto passes upon delivery.”