Bitcoiner Allan Flynn resolved his first complaint with the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) for being unilaterally unbanked in 2018 due to his occupation as a Digital Currency Exchange (DCE).
The settlement comes 20 months after the Canberra resident first filed complaints with the ACT Civil and Administrative Court against ANZ.
At settlement, the ANZ indicated that it closed its accounts due to the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing (ML / TF) that it perceives between exchanges. It also acknowledged that the act of unseating Flynn could “have constituted unlawful discrimination contrary to sections 7 (1) (p) and 20 of the Discrimination Act of 1991.”
However, ANZ denied any responsibility saying that if it had “discriminated against Mr. Flynn by closing his accounts, that discrimination was reasonable in the circumstances and therefore legal.”
The ANZ statement also admitted that it closed its account upon detecting DCE activity without contacting Flynn for further information on its activities. Flynn argues that such discrimination is illegal under Canberra law that state that, “It is against the law for someone to discriminate against you because of your profession, trade, occupation or vocation.”
Although this first battle is complete, it will take the Westpac bank to court next Thursday for a second complaint.
Westpac closed his bank account in 2019 citing the same ML / TF concerns about him as a cryptocurrency trader.
Flynn told Cointelegraph that the case was important as it will be the first time that banks will be forced to definitively say whether they will serve Bitcoin traders. “All I’m asking for is a fair chance,” he said.
Flynn plans to cite the human rights violations committed by the banks for discriminating against him and his occupation. He feels this is the right way to take over by calling for more regulations and hopes that a victory could force policy changes at the national level or perhaps even at the international level.
“A victory against the banks could have broader implications for discrimination in occupations.”
He said a court ruling will enjoy wide public scrutiny, while an advance agreement could help change the policy due to a partial admission of guilt. However, he is concerned that a loss could lead to more Bitcoiners being unbanked.
Related: New Australian Crypto Legislation Likely 2022, Senator Bragg Tells NFT Fest
His case is far from unique. Just last month, Rebecca Schot-Guppy, the CEO of Fintech Australia, told the Senate that up to 91 members of her organization had been unseated without apparent cause or means to appeal.
The Australian Transaction Analysis and Reporting Center (AUSTRAC) has issued increasingly specific regulations since 2015 on how DCEs should operate and be treated by law.
It is important to note that AUSTRAC has was cleared that AML / anti-terrorism laws do not force banks to close cryptocurrency traders’ accounts.
Flynn believes that the behavior of ANZ and Westpac suggests that “banks don’t want competition” and that if DCEs were allowed to run unhindered, “they would break the speed limit and outperform traditional banks.”