Authorities have carried out their first UK raid on crypto ATMs.
The clampdown was the outcome of a joint investigation between the Financial Conduct Authority and West Yorkshire Police.
The authorities collated evidence across the city of Leeds, surrounding venues hosting machines that allow customers to trade conventional currencies into crypto, like bitcoin.
A FCA representative said, according to the Guardian newspaper: “The FCA will review evidence gathered during these visits and consider further potential enforcement action.”
The FCA does not regulate cryptocurrencies but does mandate all businesses using it verify they make efforts to stop money laundering and terrorism. No crypto ATMs are under its jurisdiction, which makes their use illegal.
Dr Lindsey Brants, who works with the cyberteam at the West Yorkshire police, detailed how they sent letters to the relevant parties telling them to stop operating the machines or face threats of an investigation under UK money laundering rules, which was passed on to the FCA.
She added: “We are pleased to be able to work in partnership with the FCA in what we believe is a national first here in West Yorkshire.”
The FCA said it was in tandem with “multiple law enforcement parties”, including police, as they look into further alleged sites with the machines.
Mark Steward, the FCA director of enforcement and market, said: “We will continue to identify and disrupt unregistered crypto businesses operating in the UK.
“Crypto businesses operating in the UK need to be registered with the FCA for anti-money laundering purposes. However, crypto products themselves are currently unregulated and high-risk, and you should be prepared to lose all your money if you invest in them.”
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