One of Europes biggest banks wins trial against small bitcoin exchange

Nordea bank won the Norwegian bitcoin trial.

Image source: Shutterstock/Wikimedia Commons/Trijo News

Totte Löfström

totte.lofstrom@trijo.co

Jan Granroth

jan.granroth@trijo.co

Norwegian bitcoin exchange Bitmynt AS, run by Sturle Sunde, recently sued Nordea Bank for not letting him open a business account. Now, the verdict has come.

The Norwegian Sturle Sunde, who runs the bitcoin exchange company Bitmynt AS, decided to sue Nordea Bank previously this year, after having been denied to open a business account with the bank. The explanation given by Nordea Bank was that he was selling bitcoins.

Now the verdict from Oslo tingrett has come, stating that Nordea Bank had the right to deny Sunde to start the account. Sunde is also obligated to pay the costs for the trial, which amounts to just over $38.000.

A conversation as evidence

Among other things, Oslo tingrett refers to the fact that Nordea Bank has obligations to thwart illegal activity, such as money laundering and financing of terrorism. It was also pointed out that Sunde could not guarantee that his business was not being used for such activities.

During the trial, Nordea cited a conversation with Sturle Sunde as evidence. In the conversation, Sunde says: “when I am uncertain, I hold the transfer of the bitcoins until I have investigated the buyer. I give the buyer a call to receive more information. I have denied purchases on several occasions due to this kind of uncertainties”.

Referring to crime

The court also refers to testimonies presented by the chief of police, Erik Sneeggen, from Norwegian secret police Kripos. Among other things, Sneeggen confirmed that bitcoin is used for illegal activity such as payment for weapons and narcotics and that this is well-known by the Norwegian police.

Sneeggen also explained that bitcoin exchanges have the possibility to share information about suspicious activities and that this kind of information could be used to identify bitcoin holders. According to the verdict, Sunde has been helpful in cases investigated by the police.

The verdict also states that “Sunde has continued his exchange service after having been denied to open an account with Nordea Bank. However, he has not been willing to share with the court what payment services he uses now, referring to that this as a business secret”.

“Disqualification of bitcoin”

In a comment to the Norwegian newspaper DN.no, Sunde announces that he will appeal the verdict.

“The banks have de facto declared a disqualification of bitcoin”, Sunde writes in the comment.

The whole verdict could be found here (in Norwegian).

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