An online local bitcoin trading post, BTC.ee, has temporarily halted trading “due to threats issues by the Estonian police.”
The news comes from the site itself, which as of Wednesday, has a relatively large banner with the information. Otto de Voogd, operator of the website, reportedly receive emails from the Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit requesting “copies of IDs of clients, internal measures or procedure of due diligence,” along with evidence the site was registered as a currency trading service.
Failure to produce the documents could be punishable with a fine up to €32,000 and three years of imprisonment.
The Estonian authorities, however, don’t see their requests for paperwork as threats.
“We have simply noted in conversation with Mr. de Voogd that without the registration required by the Money Laundering and Terrorism Prevention Act, offering financial service could be grounds for criminal proceedings for illegal economic activity, which is a standard practice for, say, pawnshops. Being an alternative payment broker service provider means an obligation to fulfil requirements of [the above-mentioned Act],” said Aivar Paul, spokesperson for the Estonian Police to ERR.
De Voogd stands by his site:
“I am just an individual willing to do limited Bitcoin trades, up to €500,” he told ERR. “There is a whole network of such traders in the world. Traders post their prices on their sites and if you are interested you can contact a trader to arrange a trade. It’s the same with me, except that I had my own site. You could not actually trade via the site. The only thing the site did was to show the prices at which I was willing to trade and it provided an e-mail to contact me.”
It highlights that the world of bitcoin is very much still a wild west. With lack of a regulatory framework, many enthusiasts and start-ups alike from around the world are unsure as to how their governments will react to their actions.