New York Bitcoin ATM operator charged with tax, licensing crimes

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REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

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(Reuters) - The Manhattan District Attorney's Office has charged a New York man with operating dozens of unlicensed Bitcoin ATMs, saying he promised anonymity to customers who exchanged $5.6 million for the cryptocurrency between 2017 and 2018.

Robert Taylor, 35, operated 46 Bitcoin ATMs in New York City as well as in New Jersey and Miami, Florida, according to prosecutors. Taylor surrendered on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the DA's office said.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr. said in a statement that his office will continue to root out schemes involving cryptocurrency.

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"We will not allow digital currencies to become safe havens for illegal activity," he said.

An attorney for Taylor did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Taylor's business took 10-20% in fees from transactions at the kiosks which converted cash into Bitcoin and advertised on a social media account that the machines did not use cameras or require identification, according to prosecutors.

Those features attracted individuals who had recent criminal records and one who was driving a stolen U-Haul vehicle, the DA's office said.

They said Taylor underreported his income from the ATMs and failed to obtain a required virtual currency license from the New York State Department of Financial Services.

He faces charges of running an unlicensed money transmission business, tax fraud and making false filings.

The case is New York v. Taylor, New York Supreme Court, 70518-22.

For Taylor: Robert Pagan of The Blanch Law Firm

For the state: Adam Maltz

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Jody Godoy reports on banking and securities law. Reach her at jody.godoy@thomsonreuters.com