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Gendarmes grab French Bitcoin exchange in €200k sting

Liberté, Égalité, but not crypto-currency

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The operators of an illegal French Bitcoin exchange have been collared by the gendarmes and their Bitcoin holdings confiscated.

A sketchy story out of Reuters says that the raid netted €200,000 worth of the crypto-currency, but doesn't outline what specific laws the exchange is accused of breaking.

The Reuters story merely states: “Two people in the Riviera coastal cities of Cannes and Nice were placed under formal investigation on Friday and detained on suspicion that they operated a website which illegally sold and lent Bitcoins to its users.”

It adds that the people charged were also under investigation for possible “illegal banking, money laundering and illegally operating a gambling website” charges.

French outlet Le Point is more forthcoming. It explains that three people, not two, were arrested (the third was in Toulouse and seems to have been released).

“The respondents were the administrator of this illegal site, his wife and one of its suppliers”, Le Point states.

As well as 388 Bitcoin (€200,000 at the time of the arrest), the gendarmes also seized €9,000 in cash, along with credit cards and computer hardware (since the only way to “seize” a Bitcoin is to confiscate the machine holding the relevant data).

The police explained to Le Point that the site was operating without the approval of the Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Resolution – France's banking supervisor – and between November 2013 and July 2014 had handled 2,750 transactions on “at least 2,500 Bitcoins”. ®

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