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Australian Regulator: Banks Didn't Collude Over Bitcoin Account Closures

| Published on February 15, 2016 at 15:10 GMT
News

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has concluded that Australian banks did not collude in blocking services for bitcoin firms and that a full investigation into the affair is not necessary.

According to the Australian Financial Review, ACCC chairman Rod Sims wrote to Senator Matthew Canavan of The National Party of Australia – the Queensland representative who had originally requested an investigation into the matter – saying there was no evidence that banks had colluded before closing bank accounts held by bitcoin companies.

Sims further wrote that the commission's inquiry had found that the banks had acted on an individual basis "in order to ensure their ability to meet their regulatory obligations and manage their risk".

Colluding over the account closures would have seen the banks acting in contravention of the 2010 Competition and Consumer Act and its provisions against cartels.

The AFR reports Sims as writing:

"The available material also suggests that banks have made their decisions at different times, and with different outcomes."

He cited examples of one bank deciding to not deal with digital currency businesses in 2011, while a different bank came to the same decision in June 2015.

Further, some banks are still providing services to digital currency companies on a case-by-case basis, Sims said.

Inquiry criticised

However, the AFR reports that both bitcoin companies and Labor Senator Sam Dastyari have criticised the ACCC's findings, saying it had not properly investigated the issue since it had failed to reach out to the companies whose accounts were closed.

Sims rejected that suggestion, however, telling the news source that the commission had communicated with some of the affected companies.

Further, he said the banks had given investigators access to documents and had provided credible explanations about the account closures.

The ACCC had therefore come to the decision that there was no need to launch a full investigation.

An inquiry was originally called for by Senator Canavan in October 2015, when he urged the ACCC to investigate whether the banks had acted in an anti-competitive manner after abruptly closing the accounts of some 17 bitcoin businesses, including Bit Trade and Buyabitcoin.

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