Federal District Court Holds Bitcoin is Money, SEC Can Pursue Bitcoin-Based Securities Charges

Posted on August 12th, 2013 in Courts, E-Commerce, Securities By BuckleySandler

On August 6, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas held that the court has subject matter jurisdiction over the SEC’s claims that a Texas man and his company defrauded investors in a Ponzi scheme involving Bitcoin. SEC v. Shavers, No. 13-416, 2013 WL 4028182 (E.D. Tex. Aug. 6, 2013). The SEC filed suit last month alleging that the man misled investors with false assurances about the investment opportunity in Bitcoin-denominated investments he offered and sold through the Internet, while actually using Bitcoin payments received from new investors to make purported interest payments and to cover investor withdrawals. In addressing subject matter jurisdiction, the court held that the institution’s investments meet the definition of investment contract, and are securities because, among other things, Bitcoin is within the definition of “money” for purposes of the rules governing investment contracts – Bitcoin can purchase goods or services, and can be exchanged for conventional government-backed currencies. Therefore, the court held that investors who provided Bitcoin investments provided “money,” and the court has jurisdiction to hear the case under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Exchange Act of 1934.

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