A court in Israel has once again ruled against a local bank which tried to close the account of a cryptocurrency related business without any due cause. This time a Tel Aviv court has determined that a bank can’t refuse to operate an account on behalf of a crypto miner.
Court Rules on Israminers vs Union Bank
Union Bank of Israel, Ltd. (TASE: UNON), the sixth largest Israeli bank, will not be allowed to close the account of local cryptocurrency mining company Israminers Ltd. Tel Aviv District Court Judge Limor Bibi has ruled that the bank’s sweeping policy of prohibiting the opening of an account for any customer working with digital currencies is unreasonable. However, the bank could still refuse the company’s requests to deposit fiat money if it is coming from anonymous exchanges in order to remain in compliance with the banking system’s AML (anti-money laundering) and KYC (know your customer) legal requirements.
The judge ruled: “I believe that the sweeping policy, which does not distinguish between different types of activity, scope of activity and different types of customers – in the field of digital currencies – is unreasonable.” However, she added that “In these circumstances, I find the bank’s argument that, given that the ‘money trail’, as defined, in terms of sales in a trading arena to an unknown factor which knowledge of it haven’t been proven, creates risks of money laundering. As a result, I find the bank’s refusal to provide service with regard to the receipt of the money deposited in the account as reasonable.”
The Israeli banking system has repeatedly had to be told by the courts not to block crypto businesses and users without justifiable reasons. In May 2018, for example, Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, was forced by the same Tel Aviv District Court judge to accept a transfer of funds resulting from the sale of bitcoin to a client who had documents tracking the trade from beginning to end.
In February 2018, the Supreme Court of Israel issued an injunction order forbidding Bank Leumi from sweepingly halting the account activity of the Bits of Gold bitcoin exchange.
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