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Italian Banking Giant UniCredit Gets Sued by Crypto Firm for $144m

Key Insights:

  • UniCredit (UCG) gets fined $144m for closing crypto-related accounts.

  • A Bitminer Factory subsidiary sued UniCredit in Banka Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  • UniCredit joins several banks that have taken a hard line on crypto-related firms.

UniCredit SpA (UCG), Italy’s largest commercial bank, is the world’s 34th largest by assets and is headquartered in Milan. The bank offers services primarily in Italy, Germany, and Central and Eastern Europe.

In recent weeks, UniCredit Group has been in the news, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and resulting 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 banking customers who buy crypto 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

This week, a court in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina fined a UniCredit branch €131 million ($141 million) for illegally closing current accounts belonging to a Bitminer Factory subsidiary.

UniCredit closed the accounts held in UniCredit’s Banja Luka branch, preventing a reported ICO related to projects in the crypto mining sector. Bosnia and Herzegovina start-up projects are reportedly using renewable energy.

According to today’s news, UniCredit Bank stated that it is not permitted to service crypto-related firms.

While other banks have a similar stance to UniCredit Bank, the banking environment is becoming more crypto-friendly.

UniCredit Aligns with HSBC while Other Banks Embrace Crypto

In 2021, news hit the wires of UK commercial bank NatWest announcing it does not want to do business with clients and customers dealing in crypto. At a shareholder event, Morten Friis stated,

“We have no appetite for dealing with customers, whether taking them on as new clients or having an ongoing relationship with people, whose main business is backed by an exchange for cryptocurrencies, or otherwise transacting in cryptocurrencies as their main activity.”

The NatWest news followed reports of the UK’s HSBC blocking customers from buying MicroStrategy stock in early 2021.

The banking environment has changed over the last 12-months. Certain jurisdictions have become more crypto-friendly in support of innovation.

Last week, FX Empire reported Australia’s ANZ Bank becoming the first Aussie bank to mint an Aussie Dollar (AUD) pegged stablecoin.

Ahead of the ANZ news, Australia’s Commonwealth Bank of Australia also hit the crypto airways. The bank reportedly plans to double the department responsible for the crypto industry.

While ANZ and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia are leading the way, UniCredit Bank has reportedly appealed against the court decision. It remains to be seen, however, whether the appeal will be successful. According to reports, the bank could not provide any policies against dealing with crypto-related companies.

This article was originally posted on FX Empire