Charlie Shrem, the now infamous Bitcoin entrepreneur, will plead guilty to unlicensed money transmission as part of a plea deal regarding charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell more than $1 million in Bitcoin to the ‘Silk Road,’ the now shuttered underground marketplace for illegal drugs and other items. Shrem was originally charged with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, money laundering conspiracy, and failing to file a suspicious activity report with banking regulators. The deal does not include any restrictions on Shrem’s involvement with Bitcoin related activity in the future.
The case demonstrates the risks taken by unlicensed sellers or exchangers of virtual or digital currencies. It also may increase the legitimacy of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies in the eyes of the court as it becomes more common for Bitcoin connected transactions to qualify as money transmission.