A MAN accused of stealing £1million in bitcoins to fund a luxury lifestyle has denied fraud in the first trial of its kind.

Ryan Kennedy, 30, siphoned off a huge sum in digital currency in a “very complex and sophisticated fraud”, say prosecutors.

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Bitcoins are a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to generate and transfer currency[/caption]

Ryan Kennedy faces fraud charges between January and December 2014

Bitcoins are an alternative currency created by computer geeks and only exist online. They are generated using high-level code with each one currently worth about £3,225.

Kennedy, who appeared at Bristol crown court via video link from the city’s jail, denies eight charges of fraud, fraudulent trading and money-laundering.

One count of fraud alleges that Kennedy, from Bristol, had falsely claimed to be a “lawyer with a degree from ­Balliol College, Oxford”. The case follows a three-year probe by investigators.

The hearing which is the first of its kind took place at Bristol Crown Court[/caption]

Defence lawyer Dominic Thomas said: “This is, as far as counsel are aware, the first trial of its kind.”

He said the case was very unusual and would include evidence from as far afield as ­Finland and America. The trial continues.

What is bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a virtual currency that was created in 2009 by an unknown computer whizz using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto.

Individual bitcoins are created by computer code, with a maximum number than can exist of just under 21 million.

There are currently around 16 million in circulation.

Transactions are made without middle men, so there are no transaction fees and no need to give your real name.

More businesses are beginning to accept them and in some parts of the world you can even buy pizza with bitcoins.

You can set up a virtual wallet websites like Blockchain to store,  keep track and spend your digital money.

You are also able to purchase Bitcoin through an online exchange or Bitcoin ATM.

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