Bitcoin [BTC] ATMs seized in Russia; leaves the ATM manufacturers perplexed

BBFpro, one of the world’s largest ATM manufacturers reported that all their Bitcoin [BTC] ATMs installed in Russia were confiscated by the Russian police officers. The seize completed on 31st August. The incident came to light on 1st September when the concerned people issued a statement to the local Russian Media outlet, RBC.

According to the media, CEO of BBFpro, Artem Bedarev claimed that no prior notice was issued before the seize began. He also revealed that the order was passed by Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office.

He further added that the government officials informed him that the inspection would be conducted for a period of six months and the ATMs would not be returned to them until the inspection was concluded. However, the officials have not given anything in writing and that the matter was communicated verbally.

Moreover, the sudden seize has raised many brows in the company, also the company is perplexed and have no idea what is involved in the withdrawal of the cryptocurrency ATMs. Additionally, Bedarev revealed that one of the employees involved in the seizure told him that Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office carried out this order after receiving a letter from the Bank of Russia [CB].

According to the report, the local police asked Bedarev to give a full report of the terminals involved in the incident. Bedarevs’ Bitcoin ATMs have been installed in nine cities across Russia. The report also stated that the company owns a total of 22 Bitcoin ATMs located in shops, shopping malls and bars. The seizure was carried out in a span of few days across all outlets, the CEO stated.

An individual from the Irkutsk shopping centre in Snegir, Vladivostok spoke about the incident. The representative confirmed that the device installed in the particular outlet was seized on 29th August.

The CEO was asked to provide the course of action taken to sell Bitcoins. He was also questioned about any tax payments that remained outstanding from the company’s end. Additionally, the investigators asked him to provide details of how user data was processed and asked “whether the operators carry out actions to counteract the legalization of income received by criminal means and the financing of terrorism. ”

On the other side, the representatives from the Central Bank of Russia denied speaking specifically about the particular incident. A representative, however, on further questioning stated that the controllers are “directing orderly work on revealing and counteracting illicit exercises in the budgetary market.”

Attorney Sarkis Darbinyan from the Center for Digital Rights has been chosen as the legal representative for BBFPro. According to the attorney, the sudden turn of events is rather “puzzling”.  Moreover, he argued that according to the law there has been no ban issued on cryptocurrencies. He stated:

“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.”

Darbinyan added that the company will be appealing against the law enforcement’s action which has caused a reputational and economic damage to them.

An interesting fact to note here is that the aforementioned incident took place after Russia’s Federal Financial Monitoring Service stated that they will expand their set of analytical tools with a new system that allowed them to identify details about crypto wallet associated to certain individuals.

As reported by the BBC News Russian on 28th August, the firm aims at collecting and storing information related to individuals suspected of monetary crimes. Additionally, they want to aim at establishing connections between wrongdoers.

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