Italian banking giant UniCredit has been asked to pay a fine of about $144 million for allegedly closing accounts belonging to a cryptocurrency mining company.
UniCredit in Hot Water
A district court in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, has ruled that UniCredit’s branch office in the country will pay a fine of €131 million ($144 million) in damages following a lawsuit filed by a subsidiary of the crypto mining company Bitminer Factory. The local news outlet La Repubblica first reported the story.
Bitminer Factory’s subsidiary accused UniCredit of wrongfully closing its current accounts held in the bank’s local branch in Banja Luka. According to the crypto mining firm, the closure “prevented the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) associated with startup projects in the cryptocurrency mining sector using renewable energy in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
The firm set up mining operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina due to the country’s low energy tariff and opened bank accounts with UniCredit. While the bank previously allowed them to withdraw profits from the sale of mined crypto to their accounts, the UniCredit subsidiary stopped, stating that it could not service cryptocurrency businesses and suppliers.
However, the court stated that the bank could not present evidence of any written rules which prevented the financial institution from forming a business relationship with crypto-based firms.
Meanwhile, UniCredit seems dissatisfied with the ruling and has reportedly appealed the judgment. According to the bank, the sentence “is not definitive, binding, nor enforceable,” adding:
“Possible liability will be determined only by the definitive outcome of all available procedural remedies and not before the filing of a definitive and binding sentence by the appeals court.”
Major Banks Opening up to Crypto
Back in January, the Italian banking giant attracted backlash from the cryptocurrency community and also customers following a response to a Twitter user. UniCredit said:
“Hello, the current Group policies prohibit relations with counterparties issuing virtual currencies or acting as exchange platforms.”
There have been several cases of banks refusing to service accounts belonging to crypto holders. In 2021, European behemoth HSBC blocked transactions from digital asset exchanges in the United Kingdom.
However, there are other major banks who seem to have changed from an anti-crypto stance and are offering such support.
As previously reported by CryptoPotato, Australia’s largest bank, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) announced it would offer more crypto services to the bank’s clients.
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