Partner Nicola McKinney comments on the FCA crackdown on illegal crypto ATMs in Business Matters

March 13, 2023

Partner Nicola McKinney explores the FCA’s approach to enforcement in its crackdown on unregistered crypto ATMs, in Business Matters Magazine.

Nicola’s comments were published in Business Matters Magazine, 10 March 2023, and can be read here.

Criminal prosecutions may arise from these raids of illegal crypto ATMs, carried out under anti money laundering powers afforded to law enforcement, if seized documents point to evidence of fraud and digital asset crime. These powers are being used in a new context, and are likely to lead to a greater number of charges being brought against crypto fraudsters.

It has taken the FCA almost a year to undertake enforcement action against illegal crypto ATMS since issuing warnings in early 2022 and, while it is reassuring to see that concrete steps have been taken to protect investors, it does not inspire confidence that measures such as these have taken so long.

Crypto ATMs based in the UK are the only affected entities in this instance and the probability that the majority of transactions converting fiat currency to cryptocurrency take place through online providers, further complicates the job of regulators and enforcement agencies due to the jurisdictional complexities this presents.

There is still much for UK regulators and law enforcement to do in policing this rapidly evolving sector, and as crypto crime becomes more sophisticated it will require greater cross-border cooperation to create a sufficient global regulatory framework.