Law enforcement in Russia has seized 22 Bitcoin ATMs which were installed at stores, malls, and restaurants in 9 different cities of the country. BBFpro, the company that operates these ATMs, is planning to appeal the action as the operation of such machines in the country is currently not illegal.
On Friday, at least 22 Bitcoin ATMs were seized by the Russian Police in 9 different cities. BBFpro is the company which has been responsible for operating and maintaining the machines at stores, malls, and restaurants across the country. According to an officer who participated in the seizure conducted on Friday, the action was carried on behalf of the Prosecutor General’s Office, who acted at the behest of the Central Bank of Russia (CBR).
Artem Bedarev, the Director of BBFpro said that the company did not receive any prior information or notice from the authorities regarding the seizure of its ATM machines. He told local Russian media outlet RBC: that he was informed verbally that the investigation was expected to last approximately six months and the machines would be returned following the investigation.
While a CBR spokesperson refused to answer questions specifically regarding the confiscation of BBFpro’s ATM machines, he did note that the regulator “conducts systematic work to identify and counteract illegal activities in the financial market.”
He also added:
The possibility of uncontrolled cross-border transfer of funds and their subsequent cashing carries high risks of the potential involvement of cryptocurrencies in schemes aimed at illegal activities in the financial market.
Sarkis Darbinyan, a lawyer from the Digital Rights Centre (DRC), who is representing the interests of BBFpro, said that Bedarev is bewildered by the confiscation and notes that the country’s current legislation does not forbid the buying of cryptocurrencies and, thus, the action is not justified:
There is no prohibition on purchasing cryptocurrency in the current legislation. The company complies with all statutory procedures, pays taxes and, moreover, identifies users even in the absence of such a mandatory requirement
The company plans to appeal the actions of law enforcement, which it believes have resulted both in direct financial losses as well as loss of reputation and consumer confidence.
For example, a person saw the presence of terminals in his city on the Bitcoin ATM card, came there, and there is no terminal there. Naturally, he will not go there again.
What do you think about the actions taken by Russian law enforcement? Were the Bitcoin ATM seizures lawful or unlawful? Let us know in the comments below.
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