India’s First Bitcoin ATM seized, Co-founder Arrested
October 24, 2018 4:30 pm
A week ago, India was graced by the country’s first cryptocurrency ATM. This ATM was installed in Kempfort Mall, Bengaluru. Within the week, the Cyber Crime Police in the city registered a case against Unocoin and its founders for installing the ATM without any prior permission. The co-founder of the company, Harish BN was also arrested by the police.
Even though the Reserve Bank of India had banned banks and other financial outlets from dealing in cryptocurrencies, Unocoin went ahead and installed the ATM. Notably, RBI is the main regulatory financial body in India.
The Cyber Crime department of the Central Crime Branch (CCB) released an official statement for the media, stating
“The ATM kiosk installed by Unocoin in Bengaluru’s Kempfort Mall has not taken any permission from the state government and is dealing in cryptocurrency outside the remit of the law.”
Upon arresting the co-founder Harish, the police also seized multiple gadgets that included two laptops, a smartphone, three credit cards, five debit cards, a passport, five cryptocurrency seals and one cryptocurrency device. Around Rs. 1.79 lakh in cash was also seized from the premises. Before being taken into police custody, Harish was presented in front of the 1st ACMM Court in the city of Bengaluru.
The cryptocurrency ATM that was installed by Unocoin allowed customers the provision to deposit and withdraw a minimum of Rs. 1,000.
Earlier this year, the RBI had enforced a “Prohibition on Dealing in Virtual Currencies”. It stopped financial institutions that are associated with the RBI from dealing in cryptocurrencies. RBI had also declared that cryptocurrency is not a legal tender.
Unocoin believed that it was, in fact, complying with the RBI rules and stated in a statement that it was looking to accommodate “newer mechanisms and solutions to reduce facing (regulatory) hurdles by the present central governments stand.” It allowed the users to withdraw and deposit Bitcoins but did not provide the option for buying or selling them.
The ATM in question was yet to be ready for operation and was moved from Kempfort Mall Bengaluru to another location. The media outlets in India both criticized and praised the company for the ATM installation. The company had also planned to install additional ATMs in Delhi and Mumbai.