Authorities in India have once again expressed their unwavering opposition to crypto by seizing a two-way Bitcoin ATM and arresting a Unocoin cryptocurrency exchange executive.
Unocoin had installed the Bitcoin machine a week ago in the city of Bengaluru, India’s “Silicon Valley”, in a shopping mall.
Unocoin Co-Founder Harish BN, 37, was also arrested in Bengaluru, the Times of India reported. The crypto exchange installed the ATM in an attempt to circumvent a government banking prohibition placed on cryptocurrencies across the country.
“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,” says the Cyber Crime unit of the local government in a statement.
Authorities also seized several items that were in possession of Harish, including two laptops, three credit cards, five debit cards, one mobile, five company seals, a passport, a crypto device and a local currency equivalent to about $2,500.
The other co-founder
Police also arrested Unocoin Co-Founder Sathvik Viswanath earlier this week. He lives in Tumakuru and was presented before a judge at his residence and remanded in police custody for seven days.
Police told the local press they believe Viswanath has destroyed evidence that could be used against him, including online transactions and customer information.
The Unocoin founders were charged under the country’s IT Act with computer-related offences, criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, possession of forged documents, and fraudulently using forged documents, the Times of India noted.
Viswanath says his firm “got a lot of bad press after the finance minister announced a ban in February 2018. The minister’s statement was clear: Cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in India. He did not say ‘illegal tender.’ That’s a huge difference”.