There’s no one answer. Something can be “money” for the purpose of enforcing money-laundering regulations, but “assets” for taxation purposes.
This is not a new or uncommon position. Bars of gold can totally come under money-laundering laws, but are ALSO assets in the eyes of the IRS.
Different laws use different definitions; there’s no one “Central Dictionary of Legislative Terms”. In fact, many laws start off with a section containing definitions used when drafting that law.
(But that said, yes, judges have come to different answers, even in regards to money laundering. Different judges having different conclusions is what we have appeals courts, and eventually the Supreme court. This is not exactly a scandal; it just takes time for these questions to work through the system.)