Unocoin’s Bitcoin [BTC] ATM in India seized; company founder arrested for setting up ‘illegal’ kiosk

The recent hype following the release of India’s first Bitcoin ATM Kiosk has taken a step back after Central Crime Branch sleuths seized the cryptocurrency Automated Teller Machine [ATM], two laptops, a mobile phone, five debit cards, three credit cards, a passport and five seals of the Unocoin company.

Harish BV, the co-founder of Unocoin, was also arrested for running the Bitcoin ATM kiosk. The authorities reported that the ATM was illegal and had been set up by Harish without taking prior permission from the proper authorities.

After Harish’s arrest, he was presented at the court of the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate and was further remanded in police custody for seven days. The authorities reported that more arrests were likely to happen in the future.

According to police, the Bitcoin ATM was a peer-to-peer platform for individuals who wanted to buy or sell Bitcoin. They also requested the public to not invest their money into cryptocurrencies by being lured into the expectation of making huge profits.

Unocoin co-founder, Sathvik Viswanath, defended the business model of his company and stated that it was completely legal for buyers and sellers to own Bitcoin in India. He further stated that the company had been getting a lot of bad publicity ever since the Finance Minister announced its ban in February 2018. He added:

“The minister’s statement was clear, he stated that cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in India. He did not say ‘illegal tender’. There’s a huge difference. It means you bear the risk of your investment and there’s no regulation for the industry.”

In the recent budget speech of 2018-19, Arun Jaitley stated that the government did not consider cryptocurrency assets as a legal tender or coin. Furthermore, they would take necessary steps to eliminate the use of cryptocurrency assets for financing illegitimate activities.

The Bitcoin ATM kiosk which was situated on Old Airport Road in Bengaluru was reported to be non-operational. It was mainstream media channels which were responsible for projecting the news in a negative manner. According to sources from Unocoin, the machine was still under maintenance and was said to be “up and running soon”. The machine was temporarily moved from its original place, post the arrest of the Unocoin co-founder.

Satvik stated that the management in the mall started becoming anxious after the recent media reports. He added:

“The reason for panic is because of fake videos on Kannada and English channels. Due to this, our kiosk is not operational. We’ve been actively trying to get these videos pulled down.”

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