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Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin ATMs used for money laundering, Spanish police says

Friday 12 July 2019 | 10:12 AM CET

A recent effort to break up a criminal organisation, which utilised Bitcoin ATMs, has revealed a gap in European anti-money laundering statutes, according to Spanish police.

Earlier in 2019, Europol together with Spain’s Civil Guard lead a case that uncovered the regulatory loopholes in crypto-related crimes in new AML regulations issued by the European Commission. The criminal organisation reportedly provided large-scale money laundering services using Bitcoin ATMs, which fall out of the current financial regulations, not covering either cash machines or cryptocurrency exchange platforms.

The Spanish police disclosed that the criminals obtained two ATMs machines from trading platforms and installed them in Madrid as part of a fake remittance and trading services office. After sending funds to the ATMs using exchanges, the group would then insert cash in the machines to receive a QR code to claim cryptocurrency from those exchanges. They would then give those funds to drug traffickers in Colombia.

Now, Spanish officials must prove the link between the Bitcoin ATMs and the confiscated digital funds during the operation, which is a difficult task without the aid of crypto-specific regulation or European law guidelines regarding this type of crime.

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