Bitcoin_inc CEO Arrested For Selling Bitcoin

  • Bitcoin_inc CEO arrested for four days for selling bitcoin on localbitcoins.com
  • Evidence points towards coordinated attempts from Homeland Security to arrest Morgan
  • Morgan's court hearing is on Thursday 22/2/2018 and is likely to set precedent

Comment of the Day @lopp

The Bitcoin ATM creator @NODEfather was recently arrested and held in jail for 4 days (9/2/18 - 12/2/18) under allegations of violating the following law:18 USC 1956 - Money Laundering Instrument. The tweet below shows his custody report that confirms the arrest and the charge against him. He has been released on bond and is awaiting a hearing on Thursday (22/02/2018).

In the US you can send under $10,000 before being required to register as a MSB (money service business). MSB is a legal term used by financial regulators to describe businesses that transmit or convert money. If you classify as a MSB you must adhere to AML legislation and rules which is where the case against Morgan lies.

The Case

The court documents show Morgan sold 9.98 BTC Bitcoin for $14,500 to a homeland security agent using localbitcoins.com in late 2016. However, the coins had an aggregate value of $9,200 at the time and Morgan said he repeatedly asked the buyer for the correct amount of $9,200. Regardless, Homeland Security sent the $14,500 which coincidentally places the amount above the $10,000 MSB threshold.

The DHS (Department of Homeland Security) also claim that they told Morgan the bitcoin was going to be used to buy a machine which manufactures 'hash oil'; this type of machine is supposedly illegal at the federal level, but not in many states. Morgan claims that the DHS didn't specify what the bitcoins were going to be used for prior to the sale and is looking to argue this in court. 

Entrapment?

They briefly detained Morgan almost a year later in September 2017 when he travelled to San Diego after he had been promised investment in his company from a stranger for over 6 months. The stranger based in San Diego turned out to be the DHS.  They detained him and questioned him for three hours asking how many bitcoins he owns amongst other questions. Ultimately they let him go as they didn't have any grounds to arrest him.

On February 9th the DHS arrested Morgan in his Las Vegas residence where he spent 4 days in jail. On Thursday's hearing Morgan will need to prove he made every attempt to sell for under $10,000 and that the buyer had not given him an indication that the bitcoins where going to be used for the purchase of a 'hash oil' machine. What is clear is that the DHS was desperately trying to entrap Morgan and it's a worrying story for bitcoin holders over the US.

There has been significant support for Morgan and he has raised some money for legal fees. @ToneVays and @RichardHeart are two of the biggest Twitter accounts to spread the word. 

Needless to say there have been some trolls, the bitcoin parody account, @buttcoin and @iajanus accused Morgan was trying to raise bitcoin whilst 'conveniently' not being able to access his own funds. After the numerous scams plaguing the crypto Twitter space, it's understandable that people who don't know the details may be suspicious. Once more, facts emerge after Thursday's hearing and hopefully doubts can be put to rest as more details emerge.

The Bigger Picture

Perhaps Bitcoin's most important innovation is providing the first non-state controlled method of storing and transacting value since fiat money was created. This has huge implications on the control of governments and the efficacy of their monetary policies. If nothing else, this case shows the distrust government organisations have of people that choose to store their wealth outside the fiat system.

This is certainly an important case for the bitcoin ecosystem as it sets the precedent for the way in which the US government can treat those who choose bitcoin over fiat. The bitcoin revolution allows citizens to choose the monetary system they want to participate in; one ruled by a powerful elite that favors their interests or a trustless system that runs on code and cryptography. Each citizen has a right to participate in either system without scaremongering tactics that one could consider this case to be.

Support

Morgan has hired David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfield as his legal team and he says DHS has locked him out of his phone meaning he can't access his BTC to pay for legal fees so he is asking for donations or loans backed by his verified Counterparty address.

Alternatively, if you are near San Diego go and show your support in person!

Could President Trump Ban Bitcoin? Experts Weigh In

  • Experts weigh in on the possibility of President Trump banning bitcoin.
  • Increasing concern over libra and large platform digital currencies is driving political agenda. 

Following last week’s attack on bitcoin and Facebook’s libra, experts have voiced their opinion on whether US President Donald Trump could realistically impose a ban on cryptocurrency. 

Not a Fan of Bitcoin

On July 11, President Donald Trump published a series of tweets attacking bitcoin and digital currencies, while championing the dollar. 

President Trump’s comments come in the midst of growing concern over Facebook’s libra, as political regulators around the world scramble to enact policies to deal with the rise of digital currencies. 

Members of the crypto community have questioned the impact of the US President taking an unfavorable stance towards bitcoin. Some crypto pundits predicted the tweets would be good for the price of BTC and ultimately increase exposure to cryptoassets. However, others worry that political influence may lead to a crackdown on cryptocurrency usage. 

Scenarios for Banning Crypto

Alex Kruger, economist and market analyst, published a tweet thread examining the legality and possibility of President Trump banning bitcoin. 

According to Kruger, It would be almost impossible for the US government to outlaw bitcoin as a technological instrument. Aside from the Herculean task of eradicating a decentralized, digital technology, bitcoin is code, which is protected under the first amendment.

However, that same protection is not extended to third-party operators, including cryptocurrency exchanges. 

Kruger quoted Abra CEO and Founder BIll Barhydt, who explained in a Forbes article how the government could target fiat onramps to exchanges, 

“You can’t prevent people from holding ones and zeroes on a device in their pocket. That ship has sailed. We already know that. The question is: What can they do at the edge of the network -- the onramps and offramps, the places where they exert control over the banking system, the exchanges, [and the] stablecoins.”

The US government could prevent retail investors from having access to crypto-assets through exchanges and prevent banks from allowing transfer of funds. Users would still be able to buy crypto through alternative channels, but the current ease of investing would be severely hampered. 

Unlikely, But Not Impossible

President Trump could also issue an executive order banning citizens from dealing in bitcoin, similar to the one he issued against the Petro. While there is a precedent for this route, Kruger claims the order could be easily overturned by Congress, 

Ultimately, Kruger believes that it is unlikley the President or Congress would move to ban bitcoin, and it would be difficult to enact fool-proof policy. However, it's worth considering the political landscape as regulatory concerns mount over Facebook's libra.

Just last week, a copy of a bill reportedly drafted by the House Financial Services Committee surfaced online, under the title "Keep Big Tech Out of Finance." The bill would put an end to Facebook and other large platforms from issuing digital currencies without incurring a severe penalty.

The same could be extended to bitcoin in the event the government finds crypto-assets no longer tolerable for the general public.