Following the ruling by Chile’s supreme court that a bank can legally close accounts of a crypto exchange, the country’s Court of Defense of Free Competition reaffirmed that banks must reopen crypto exchanges’ accounts. The Chilean antitrust court continues to hear the case alleging that banks exploit their dominant position to keep crypto exchanges off the market.
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Chile’s Court of Defense of Free Competition (TDLC) rejected banks’ request on Wednesday to vacate its injunction that forced them to keep accounts of crypto exchanges open. Their request was “based on the ruling of the supreme court, issued in early December, which determined that the closure of an account of [crypto exchange] Orionx by Bancoestado was legal,” La Tercera publication wrote. Dario Financiero news outlet elaborated:
The TDLC noted in its resolution that the ruling of the country’s highest court ‘does not constitute a new precedent that will change the resolution.’
Martín Jofré, the CEO of crypto exchange Criptomkt, commented after the ruling: “For us, it is a success since we need bank accounts to operate in the market. In any case, we always rely on Chilean institutions, especially on the TDLC for its role as defender of free competition.”
Cryptocurrency exchanges filed a lawsuit with the TDLC against 10 major banks in Chile last year, accusing them of abusing their dominant position after they unilaterally decided to close their accounts. The TDLC then ordered banks to reopen accounts of the exchanges for the duration of the trial.
Bancoestado and Itau took the case to the country’s supreme court which subsequently ruled that the banks can legally close accounts of a crypto exchange. With the supreme court’s validation, the two banks asked the TDLC to cancel its order for them to reopen accounts of the exchanges.
“The resolution of the court [TDLC] seems completely legally sound to us,” lawyer Samuel Cañas, representing local crypto exchange Buda.com, was quoted by Dario Financiero as saying after the TDLC ruled on Wednesday.
“On the other hand, the issuance of judgments such as that of the supreme court” against crypto exchanges “should not have legal relevance on the decisions that the Tribunal [Tribunal de Defensa de la Libre Competencia, TDLC]” makes on the subject of free competition, therefore it should be “inadmissible,” he added.
Mario Bravo, legal advisor to Cryptomkt, said that “the witnesses that we have cited, that is, the finance minister, the economy minister, the president of the central bank, the superintendents of banks, [and] the director of the UAF [Unidad De Analisis Financiero]” will give their testimonies to the TDLC in February. He concluded:
We believe that we will be able to prove that the banks illegitimately expel Buda and Cryptomkt from the market because they are companies that compete with them.
What do you think of the TDLC’s decision? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, TDLC, Cryptomkt, and Buda.com.
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The Romanian judiciary has decided to hand over to U.S. authorities the founder and CEO of Coinflux, one of the country’s cryptocurrency exchanges. Vlad Nistor has been accused of a number of crimes including the laundering of illicitly obtained funds through his digital asset trading platform.
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Vlad Nistor was arrested in December by Romanian law enforcement officials and Secret Service agents in Cluj, where his crypto business is based. He was released soon after that by the Bucharest Court of Appeal but not allowed to leave the city. The 29-year-old entrepreneur submitted an appeal against the U.S. extradition request. On Dec. 20, the court rejected his objections.
According to local media, the High Court of Cassation and Justice, Romania’s supreme judicial authority, has upheld the decision by the lower instance and ordered Nistor’s transfer to U.S. custody. Nistor is wanted for his participation in crimes committed by other Romanian nationals. Using Coinflux, the group allegedly laundered money from their criminal activities, including defrauding U.S. citizens.
Last month, the businessman’s lawyer Anatol Pânzaru protested against the extradition and argued that the requirements of the agreement on judicial cooperation between Romania and the United States have not been met. He thinks Nistor is wrongly accused of crimes committed in the U.S., and not in Romania as the American side claims, in which he was not directly involved.
Pânzaru explained that the scammers have initially exchanged their proceeds to bitcoin on U.S. territory and that’s where the actual money laundering occurred. Then other people converted the coins back to fiat currency on Nistor’s exchange in Romania. The lawyer insists his client had no way of knowing these were illicit funds.
In his statement in court, Vlad Nistor said he established the trading platform after working for seven years in the financial sector. “When you try to grow a business, you don’t think of committing crimes, because the value of that business is diminished,” stated the 29-year-old Coinflux owner, as quoted by the Romanian news agency Mediafax.
The exchange was founded in 2015 and has since traded cryptocurrency worth over $229 million, processing more than 203,000 transactions, according to its records. Last year the platform had a turnover of more than $3.4 million and made over 30,000 transactions. A warning on its website now reads “Trading disabled, bank account frozen.”
In a message to its users, Coinflux states that it has been forced to stop all digital currency exchanges due to an “unexpected investigation.” The company informs its customers it’s doing everything possible “to make sure everyone who had money deposited in Coinflux wallets gets it back.” But the team also notes their access to certain parts of the platform has been restricted.
Nistor’s case resembles that of the Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik who was arrested on a U.S. warrant in Greece in the summer of 2017. The IT specialist is the suspected operator of the now defunct exchange Btc-e. He is accused of laundering up to $9 billion through the platform, including bitcoins stolen in the Mt. Gox hack. Vinnik is currently fighting his extradition to the U.S. and to France, where he is wanted for other crimes.
Do you think Nistor and Vinnik will be extradited to the U.S.? Share your thoughts on these cases in the comments sections below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Vlad Nistor (Twitter).
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As President Donald Trump presides over geopolitical shape-shifting as the poster boy of separatist politics, the most significant clapback yet may be loss of confidence in the U.S. dollar. The dollar has been politically weaponized in the service of American interests and now other global powerhouses are betting on taking back control of their economies by phasing out the dollar as the de facto medium of international trade.
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Over the past year, China, Russia, India, Iran and Turkey, countries predominantly on the receiving end of U.S. economic sanctions and trade conflicts, have either disapprovingly reassessed the hegemony of the dollar as the global reserve currency or started de-dollarizing their trade relationships.
Although cryptocurrency has not been tabled as an alternative, loss of confidence in the dollar is symptomatic of the political entanglements of fiat currencies and places decentralized digital currencies like bitcoin at the right side of history.
In a recent article, RT profiled a few countries opposed to the dollar and detailed what they are doing to cut back on dollar dependence. Unlike other dollar skeptics, India does not come across as a U.S. rival, but the populous country is taking measures to ensure that American sanctions do not get in the way of its trade partnerships.
According to RT, the Asian giant had to switch from the dollar to the rupee earlier this year for a military procurement from its BRICS partner, Russia, as well as for sanctions-hit Iran’s crude oil. A currency swap agreement between India and United Arab Emirates is part of a trend that China and Russia have also utilized to do away with the U.S. dollar as a medium of exchange.
China’s international ambitions include wider circulation of the yuan, which is already on course following the adoption of the currency, along with the dollar, the Japanese yen, the euro, and the British pound into the IMF’s currency basket. China’s gradual de-dollarization may be hastened by the current trade tiff between Beijing and Washington.
Steps taken to this end include reducing the country’s share of U.S. treasuries, introduction of swap facilities in participating countries to promote yuan use in the developing world, and stronger trade among South East Asian neighbors.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has rapped the US as “making a colossal strategic mistake” by undermining confidence in the dollar. Although the Kremlin, a frequent target of U.S. sanctions, has not made an outright call for ditching the greenback, its finance ministry has been phasing out the currency in favor of the ruble, the euro, and precious metals, which it considers to be more secure.
Online banking solutions Visa, Mastercard, and Swift are also getting replaced in Russia by a national payment system in retaliation against an anticipated round of U.S. sanctions. Mastercard and Visa are not new to complicity with U.S. interests. Interestingly, BTC emerged as a politically agnostic payment alternative after the two institutions froze Wikileaks editor Julian Assange’s accounts.
Barack Obama left office with the Iran nuclear deal as one of his masterful diplomatic strokes, and a peace effort for his otherwise war-weary tenure. Trump was not eager to inherit the deal, renewing sanctions against Tehran with a nod from Tel Aviv. In addition to the currency switch arrangement with India for oil exports, Iran has also entered a barter trade arrangement with neighboring Iraq. The Islamic Republic has also spoken about the introduction of a national cryptocurrency to circumvent the sanctions.
Turkey, which is enduring increasingly frosty relations with Washington, has been vocal about switching to alternative currencies for transactions with Iran. Dollar-free trade with China, Russia, and Ukraine is also being worked out.
In Africa, where issues of aid are tied to a series of often unreasonable demands, the dominance of the United States dollar as a settlement currency is already being challenged by emerging payment methods in financial technology and by native African fiat currencies. In the four years to 2017, fewer people in the continent of 1.2 billion transacted via the U.S. dollar than with their local currencies or mobile money, and perhaps cryptocurrency.
Virtual currency has in the past emerged as a solution to situations where other actors are victims of traditional financial instruments and the complicity of payment processors with powerful state interests. Replacement of the U.S dollar with other fiat currencies may facilitate similar problems in the long-term, all of which quietly makes the case for censorship-resistant cryptocurrency that is immune from international meddling. The only tenable solution that meets that description is, of course, bitcoin.
What do you think about the dominance of the U.S. dollar in global trade? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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