It has emerged that the (ACCC) Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has closed the case involving Australian banks, which were accused of colluding to block their services from local bitcoin firms. Authorities concluded by saying that a full inquiry into the matter was not necessary. The investigation was first initiated by Senator Matthew Canavan, authorizing this particular commission to look into claims that established banking institutions were working together to perform the alleged misdemeanor.
Details also show that ACCC chairman, Mr. Rod Sims, had later written to Canavan who’s a member of The National Party representing Queensland, clearly stating that they’ve found no evidence so far regarding the accusation made concerning the bitcoin companies. Even despite bank accounts belonging to these particular bitcoin establishments being closed unceremoniously.
Sims further mentioned that the inquiry led them to believe any bitcoin actions taken by these banks were done on an “individual basis,” so as to meet regulatory functions and manage risks. He said that the financial bodies made their decisions at very different periods and dates, all with varying outcomes as well. Nevertheless, colluding to terminate accounts would have meant that the said banks were acting against the enacted 2010 Competition & Consumer Act, including its provisions on handling cases involving cartels.
The ACCC head cited a case in 2011, where a certain bank refused to recognize digital currencies such as bitcoin, with another one also coming to the same conclusion 4 years later. Moreover, some centers are still providing virtual currency services to companies albeit on a case-to-case basis. The report mentions that at least 17 bitcoin firms had their accounts closed by banks.
Following these developments, Sims had contacted the financial institutions to ensure that none had acted against the law. He also maintained that banks still bore the sole responsibility of determining who they conduct business with, so there’s absolutely nothing wrong with what they did.
The commission was working on a claim of anti-competitive behavior raised by the Senator in September 2015. Still, some people have expressed concerns about how these investigations were carried out, requiring more to be done by the ACCC in determining what really happened concerning the closing of the bitcoin companies’ accounts.
Many bitcoin companies have criticised this report, with similar positions also held by Labor Senator Mr. Sam Dastyari. Both bitcoin companies and Senator Dastyari have sharply opposed Sims’ findings, saying that his team had not done investigations properly since they failed to contact bitcoin companies whose accounts got closed. Rod on his part rejected that assumption, telling news agencies that ACCC had actually communicated with some of the firms affected before issuing their statement. He continues by saying that banks had allowed investigating personnel to peruse through confidential documents, also providing credible explanations as to why the said bitcoin accounts had to be closed. Based on these revelations, the commission came to a conclusion that there was absolutely no need for launching any full-scale inquiries.
Senator Dastyari responded by saying that the finding was “utterly astonishing,” also revealing allegations about banks blacklisting certain individuals related to the bitcoin industry from opening new private banking accounts. This according to him is proof enough that ACCC is trying to shield the financial institutions from incriminating evidence directly pointing towards them.
The regulation chief responded by saying that banking institutions provided different individual explanations as to what actually transpired, leading to eventual termination of the affected accounts. And since none of these accounts match each other, then there’s absolutely no way the banks could have been working together to collude as per say.
Sims says their investigators are professionally trained and can get to the bottom of things quite fast, and this is a pretty reasonable explanation for anybody who maybe doubting. It’s also one of the reasons why they maintain that an in-depth bitcoin investigation should not be launched.
Among the 17 bitcoin businesses that had their accounts shut were bitcoin exchanges Buyabitcoin and Bit Trade, such abrupt closure of accounts with no resolute explanations given is what prompted Senator Canavan to call for an investigation late last year. He wanted to know whether it was fair for financial institutions to act in such a manner, despite the law indicating that such actions were anti-competitive according to Competition & Consumer Act which was passed in 2010.