Laws prohibiting cryptocurrency financial crimes take effect March 19 in Michigan. The five-law cryptocurrency package, signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in December, does not add any additional crimes or penalties to the existing Michigan Penal Code. The legislation updates laws to clarify that if a person were to engage in criminal activity with a digital form of currency such as Bitcoin, their actions would be treated as if they were doing it using cash.
Cryptocurrency is digital currency or electronic cash. It first started to appear in the United States in the early 1990s, but its popularity has taken off due to a surge in online business and the ease and unregulated nature of the exchange.
Bitcoin is the largest and most well-known digital currency. According cnbc.com, one Bitcoin amounts to over $11,000 as of Feb. 4, 2020. Bitcoin’s popularity increased suddenly in 2017 when the value of one surged to almost $20,000, up from $327 in 2015.
A growing number of merchants across the country accept cryptocurrency, including Microsoft and AT&T. Online retailers such as Newegg and Overstock agree to receive Bitcoin payment as well.
Cryptocurrency is not yet recognized as a form of money; therefore, loopholes have arisen in outdated criminal laws that explicitly involve money. As cryptocurrency popularity continues to increase, business owners may wish to accept digital cash. The new Michigan laws add references to cryptocurrency to prohibit embezzlement, forgery, money laundering, racketeering, counterfeiting, and dogfighting winnings.
The business attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio are ready to help business owners understand the complexities of the law, including the laws governing cryptocurrency. For information, visit our website or call 586-726-1000.