Orionx And Other Chilean Crypto Exchanges Excluded From National Banking System

Colin Muller

Chilean cryptoasset exchange Orionx has lost a court battle in the country's highest court, in the final chapter of a series of rulings and appeals on the unilateral closing of its Banco Estado bank account, the national El Mercurio (“Emol” for short) newspaper has reported.

Banco Estado had originally halted its Orionx relationship back in March. A spokesperson for the bank then commented, again to Emol, that they would not operate with any crypto-associated entities “as long as there is no regulatory recognition of such activity.”

The Banco del Estado de Chile is the only state-owned bank in Chile, and the third largest bank in the country. It has existed in its current form since 1953.

Chilean Crypto On The Rocks

This ruling is part of a back-and-forth saga in Chile that has been ongoing since March of 2018, involving not just Orionx. Two other cryptoasset exchanges, CryptoMKT and Buda.com, also had their accounts with several banks closed in March along with Orionx’s.

The three crypto-companies together filled a joint appeal to the country’s free market watchdog, the Tribunal de Defensa de la Libre Competencia, or Court of Defense of Free Competition (TDLC) in April. Orionx, CryptoMKT and Buda won their TDLC appeal, and the banks were instructed to reopen the closed accounts. The banks apparently dragged their feet in doing so for several weeks.

In July, a Chilean appeals court ruled in favor of Orionx against Banco Estado, in a case that was brought in conjunction with joint TDLC appeal. The court, although sympathetic with Banco Estado’s concerns, ultimately said that the new crypto ventures “can not necessarily be identified with the commission of criminal acts.”

But the final word of the supreme court has again reversed the momentum, and overturned the appeals court’s ruling. The court cited oft-heard arguments, including concerns of terrorist financing and money laundering, and said that the bank cannot “[know] in depth the financial activities related to cryptocurrencies developed by the appellant, the most relevant characteristics of its operations, the foundations on which these are supported and [...] if their amounts are excessive or not.”

The ruling applies to just one company and one bank, although it could be a foothold into further anti-crypto regulation in the South American country.