Rep. Kesto crafts essential updates to law with rise of digital currency

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Plan in bipartisan package approved in Michigan House vote

A proposal from state Rep. Klint Kesto expanding criminal definition in instances where money changes hands was passed unanimously in a recent vote by the Michigan House.

Kesto’s legislation, House Bill 6253, does not create any new crimes or strengthen penalties. It adds to definition within the Michigan Penal Code to include cryptocurrency as something of value when examining possible financial gain in crimes involving embezzlement. The proposal is one of six addressing digital currency in a bipartisan update to current laws.

“We’ve seen an explosion in the use of digital currency and our laws need to be reflective of that use to make sure Michigan residents and consumers are protected,” said Kesto, of Commerce Township. “These are effective updates that will keep us tough on crime without adding crimes.”

Cryptocurrency 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 exchange. Several major merchants across the country now accept digital forms of currency. Cryptocurrency is not officially recognized as a form of money, so loopholes have naturally arisen in outdated current laws which specifically define a transfer of money or personal property in forms of crime.

Kesto serves as chair of the House Law and Justice Committee, which heard testimony on the bills before unanimously advancing them to the full House in November.

The six bills in the package, HBs 6253-58, now move to the Senate for consideration.