Bitcoiner Allan Flynn has settled his first complaint with the Australian-New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) that he was unilaterally defrauded in 2018 and 2019 because of his work as a digital bank (DCE).
The settlement comes 20 months after a Canberra resident first filed a complaint with the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal against ANZ.
In the settlement, ANZ indicated that it closed its accounts due to the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing (ML / TF) on the stock exchanges. He also acknowledged that Flynn’s Banking Cancellation Act “could constitute unlawful discrimination in violation of §§ 7 (1) (p) and 20 of the Discrimination Act 1991”.
However, ANZ denies any liability, stating that if it “discriminated against Mr. Flynn by closing the accounts, such discrimination would be reasonable in the circumstances and therefore legal.”
The ANZ statement also admits that it closed the account after discovering DCE activity without contacting Flynn for more information on its activities. Flynn argues that such discrimination is illegal under the Canberra law, which states that “it is illegal for anyone to discriminate against you on the basis of your profession, craft, profession or calling.”
Although this first match has already ended, he will sue Westpack next Thursday following another complaint.
Westpac closed its bank account in 2019, citing the same ML / FT concerns as a cryptocurrency trader.
Flynn told Cointelegraph the case is significant because it will be the first time banks will have to say definitively whether they will serve bitcoin traders. “All I ask for is reasonable costs,” he said.
Flynn intends to cite human rights abuses by banks to discriminate against him and his profession. He believes this is the right way to respond to the call for more rules, and hopes that victory will lead to a change in policy nationally or perhaps even internationally.
“Bank battering can have broader implications for professional discrimination.”
He said the court’s decision would be subject to widespread public scrutiny, and an earlier settlement could help change policy over partial plea. However, he is concerned that the loss may not result in more bitcoin transactions with banks.
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His case is far from unique. Just last month, Fintech Australia chief Rebecca Schott Jobe told the Senate that 91 members of her organization had been exposed for no apparent reason or opportunity to appeal.
The Australian Transaction Reporting and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) has been issuing increasingly specific regulations since 2015 on how DCEs operate and how to handle them in accordance with the law.
Most importantly, AUSTRAC has made it clear that anti-money laundering / terrorism laws do not require banks to close accounts for cryptocurrency traders.