Russian Police Confiscates Bitcoin ATMs in a Major Swoop Across the Country
Russian company BBFpro had two dozens of Bitcoin ATMs confiscated by law enforcement with no explanations or advance inquiry from the prosecutors.
According to BBFpro CEO Artem Bedarev, the only thing he knows is that the company’s Bitcoin ATMs have been confiscated under the instruction of the Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office pursuant to the Central Bank’s notice, local publication RBK reported on Friday.
“I was told verbally that inspection would take at least six months and that the ATM’s wouldn’t be returned until it’s finished,” said Artem Bedarev.
The company says it had 22 machines located in nine cities across Russia, and all of them were confiscated almost simultaneously on Friday, August 31.
Meanwhile representatives for the Central Bank gave no plausible explanation regarding the confiscated devices. What they did though was to remind that the regulator “is conducting systematic work on uncovering and preventing illegal activities in the financial market” and that the possibility of uncontrolled cross-border transfer of funds and converting them in fiat money entails the risk that a cryptocurrency will be used in illegal financial operations.
Sarkis Darbinyan, an attorney at the Center for Digital Rights representing BBFpro, says that the authorities‘ actions are “puzzling”.
“There is no ban on the purchase of cryptocurrency in the current legislation. The company complies with all the procedures established by law, it pays taxes, and even identifies users despite the absence of such mandatory requirements,” said Darbinyan.
He added that the company is going to appeal against the law enforcement’s actions which incur “reputational costs and direct economic damage”.
As noted by Artem Bedarev, the police want to know such specific things as how the exchange rate works, whether the company has any outstanding tax debts and how it processes personal data of the users as well as the measures it takes to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing.
According to data provided by coinatmradar.com, there are 3,561 Bitcoin ATM’s installed around the globe. The vast majority of them are located in the US (2,201), while Russia with 79 such devices sits on the fifth place.
As reported by ForkLog earlier this week, by the end of 2018 Russia’s Federal Financial Monitoring Service (Rosfinmonitoring) is expected to expand its set of analysis tools with a new system allowing for data about cryptocurrency wallets tied to certain individuals.
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