- UniCredit (UCG) is fined $144 million for closing crypto-related accounts.
- A subsidiary of Bitminer Factory sued UniCredit in Banka Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- UniCredit joins several banks that have taken a hard line on crypto-related businesses.
UniCredit SpA (UCG), Italy’s largest commercial bank, is the 34and largest in terms of assets and headquartered in Milan. The bank offers services mainly in Italy, Germany and Central and Eastern Europe.
In recent weeks, UniCredit Group has been in the headlines, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions leaving the bank with a possible €1 billion write-off of its Russian business.
Earlier this year, UniCredit Bank threatened to close the bank accounts of bank customers who buy cryptos including Bitcoin (BTC). There was no U-turn on the threats made, with the bank maintaining its anti-crypto stance.
UniCredit Hit sued by Crypto Miner for 131 million euros
This week, a court in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, fined a branch of UniCredit €131 million ($141 million) for illegally closing current accounts belonging to a subsidiary of Bitminer Factory. .
UniCredit closed accounts held at UniCredit branch in Banja Luka, preventing a reported ICO related to projects in the crypto mining sector. Start-up projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina would use renewable energy.
According to today’s news, UniCredit Bank has said that it is not authorized to service crypto-related businesses.
As other banks take a similar stance to UniCredit Bank, the banking environment is becoming more crypto-friendly.
UniCredit aligns with HSBC as other banks embrace crypto
In 2021, news hit the wires of British commercial bank NatWest announcing that it did not want to do business with clients and customers dealing in crypto. At a shareholder event, Morten Friis said:
“We have no desire to deal with customers, whether by accepting them as new customers or by having an ongoing relationship with people, whose main business is supported by a cryptocurrency exchange, or otherwise by carrying out transactions in cryptocurrencies as a main activity.”
The NatWest news followed reports that HSBC in the UK blocked customers from buying MicroStrategy shares in early 2021.
The banking environment has changed over the past 12 months. Some jurisdictions have become more crypto-friendly to support innovation.
Last week, FX Empire announced that Australian bank ANZ had become the first Australian bank to mint a stablecoin pegged to the Australian dollar (AUD).
Ahead of the ANZ news, Australia’s Commonwealth Bank of Australia also hit the crypto airways. The bank reportedly plans to double down on the department responsible for the crypto industry.
While ANZ and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are leading the way, UniCredit Bank has reportedly appealed the court’s decision. It remains to be seen, however, whether the appeal will be successful. According to reports, the bank could not provide a policy against transactions with crypto-related companies.