Law enforcement in Russia has recently seized Twenty-Two Bitcoin ATMs which were installed at stores, malls, and restaurants in nine different cities of the country.
BBFpro, the company that operates these ATM kiosks, is planning to appeal the action as the operation of such machines in the country is currently not illegal.
On Friday, at least Twenty-Two Bitcoin ATMs were seized by the Russian Police in nine different cities. BBFpro is the corp which has been responsible for operating the machines at malls, stores, 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, Chief Director of BBFpro said that the company did not receive any prior info 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 promptly following the investigation.
While a Central Bank of Russia spokesperson refused to answer questions specifically regarding the confiscation of BBFpro’s ATM’s, 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.
The Company’s Response
Sarkis Darbinyan, a lawyer from the Digital Rights Centre (DRC), who is representing the interests of BBFpro, said that Artem Bedarev is bewildered by the confiscation and notes that the country’s current legislation does not forbid the buying of cryptocurrencies and, therefore, 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 and the loss of reputation and consumer confidence.