Imagine how much easier life might have been for Breaking Bad’s Walter White if he could have laundered his meth money through Bitcoin instead of setting up a carwash as a cover business? Wired reports that attorney Joshua Dratel, who is representing the alleged founder of online drug den Silk Road, is arguing that his client couldn’t be guilty of money laundering because all of his alleged transgressions were done with Bitcoin, which the Internal Revenue Service recently said was not a currency.
“Both IRS and FinCEN have categorically declared that Bitcoins are not ‘funds,’” Dratel wrote in a recent memorandum to get money laundering charges against his client dismissed. “Thus, an essential element of §1956 – a ‘financial transaction’ – is absent because a necessary component thereof – either ‘funds’ or ‘monetary instruments’ – is lacking. Consequently, it is respectfully submitted that Count Four must be dismissed.”
Federal officials arrested alleged Silk Road founder Ross William Ulbricht last fall and charged him not just with money laundering but also with drug trafficking and computer hacking. In other words, even if Dratel’s clever defense gets his client off the hook for money laundering he’ll still need to find a way to get his other charges dismissed.