Oz watchdog clears banks of collusion in bitcoin lockdown

Oz watchdog clears banks of collusion in bitcoin lockdown

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has cleared the nation's banks over accusations that they colluded in the removal of banking services to local bitcoin operators.

The concerted action by Australia's major banks last year to advise at least 17 bitcoin companies that there accounts would be closed, citing failure to comply with anti-money laundering rules, caused uproar in the fledgeling bitcoin community.

The move prompted Queensland National Senator Matthew Canavan to write to the country's competition watchdog to demand an investigation, arguing that the banks appeared to be "nipping in the bud the growth of potential competitors".

In a letter to Canvan - seen by the Australian Financial Review - ACCC chairman Rod Sims said banks had the right to choose who they dealt with, and there were many reasons why they could legitimately refuse to deal with an organisation. He said the ACCC had contacted numerous institutions and concluded that none had acted anti-competitively.

The available evidence indicated that banks had made their decisions at different times, and with different outcomes, Simms said.

"For example, one bank adopted a policy to not deal with digital currency businesses in 2011, while a different bank adopted its policy in June 2015," he wrote. "Some banks remain open to providing services to digital currency businesses on a case by case basis."

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