Bitcoiner Allan Flynn has reportedly settled his first complaint with the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) for being unilaterally debanked in 2018 as a result of his occupation as a Digital Currency Exchange (DCE).
This settlement comes 20 months after the Canberra resident first filed his complaints with the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal against ANZ.
In this settlement, the ANZ confirmed that it had closed his accounts as a result of the risk of money laundering and terrorism funding (ML/TF) that it suspects happens among exchanges. ANZ also noted that the act of unbanking Flynn might:
“have amounted to unlawful discrimination contrary to sections 7(1)(p) and 20 of the Discrimination Act 1991.”
Nonetheless, ANZ denied any liability saying:
“If we had discriminated against Mr. Flynn by closing his accounts, that discrimination was reasonable in the circumstances and thus lawful.”
This statement by the ANZ bank also confirmed that it closed Flynn’s account upon detecting DCE activity without contacting him for more information about his activities. On his part, Flynn argues that such type of discrimination is illegal according to the Canberra law that states:
“It is against the law for someone to discriminate against you because of your profession, trade, occupation or calling.”
Even though the first battle appears to be already complete for now, Flynn said that he will take Westpac bank to the tribunal in the coming week over a second complaint. Westpac closed his bank account bank in 2019 citing the same ML/TF concerns over him being a renowned cryptocurrency trader.
Flynn told reporters that the case was an important one since it will be the first time banks will be forced to determine definitively whether they will serve BTC traders. He said:
“All I’m asking for is a fair go.”
Allan Flynn won a settlement with ANZ for debanking him and is now headed to the tribunal to take on Westpac on Thursday next week. Flynn wants to cite human rights violations by banks for discriminating against him and his legitimate occupation.
He believes that this is the right way to go over calling for more regulations and is hopeful that a win will agitate for policy changes countrywide or maybe even internationally.
“A win against the banks could have wider implications for discrimination against occupations.”
Flynn added that a ruling by the Tribunal will enjoy massive public scrutiny, while a settlement beforehand may help change policy as a result of a partial admission of guilt. However, he is worried that a loss of this case might result in more Bitcoiners being unbanked.
His case is not unique. Around one month ago, the CEO of Fintech Australia, Rebecca Schot-Guppy, told the Senate that up to 91 members of her organization were debanked under unclear circumstances and they were not given any opportunity for appeal.
Notably, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has so far issued increasingly specific regulations since 2015 about how DCEs need to operate and be treated by the law.
AUSTRAC has also made it clear that the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws do not compel banks to close the accounts of cryptocurrency traders.
Flynn thinks that the behaviour of ANZ and Westpac suggests that the banks do not want any competition. In case the DCEs were allowed to function freely, they would “break the speed limit and surpass traditional banks.”