Spanish authorities: Bitcoin ATMs expose hole in AML laws

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July 12 2019

Law enforcement officials in Spain claim that a recent move to take down a money laundering scheme — which used bitcoin ATMs as a front for illegal drug payments — has exposed a loophole in European anti-money laundering laws, according to a report in Bloomberg.

Earlier this year, Europol and Spain’s Civil Guard dismantled a large-scale money laundering operation. They arrested eight people and charged eight more with their alleged involvement in transferring 9 million euros ($10 million) to Columbia.

As part of its money laundering operation, the syndicate had set up two bitcoin ATMs in a Madrid office, which innocently portrayed itself as a “center for sending remittances and trading cryptocurrencies.” In fact, the machines played a critical role in allowing the cartel to clean their ill-gotten gains.