Several Portuguese banks have started closing accounts belonging to crypto exchanges for “risk management” reasons – and the country’s central bank seems to have given financial institutions its blessing.
Portugal has earned a reputation as a crypto haven in recent years, as it does not impose capital gains tax on crypto-related income. But over the past few months, the government and the financial industry seem to have become keen on regulating crypto in line with other EU countries.
By Expresso media, as good as Negotiations Journal and Bloomberg, a long list of banks – including heavyweights Portuguese Commercial Bank (BCP) and Santander Bankas good as Caixa Geral de Depositos, Bigand Abanca – closed accounts belonging to at least four national crypto exchanges.
The exchanges are all registered with the central Bank of Portugal, which controls national crypto trading platforms. The identities of three of the exchanges have been revealed as cryptoloja, Pay attention to the roomand Luso Digital Assetswith a fourth requesting anonymity in the media.
Bank of Portugal Governor Mário Centeno reportedly said financial institutions had the power to do whatever they wanted, but added that he was “monitoring the matter”.
The central bank was further quoted as explaining:
“The decision to open or continue to offer bank account services in such cases depends on the risk management policies that each banking institution puts in place.”
The monitoring of exchanges by the Bank of Portugal consists of ensuring that the platforms fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Additional regulation for the crypto sector has yet to be developed.
BCP told Bloomberg that its duty is “to inform the relevant authorities whenever it finds ‘suspicious transactions,’ which may also determine the termination of banking relationships with certain entities.”
A Santander spokesperson, meanwhile, added that it generally acts “in accordance with its perception of risk” and that decisions to close, open or maintain accounts depend on “several factors”.
CriptoLoja was quoted as explaining that he always complied with money laundering protocols as required, and added:
“We now have to rely on using accounts outside of Portugal to manage the exchange.”
Mind the Coin claimed that its own accounts were closed earlier this year and that its efforts to open accounts with other domestic lenders were also unsuccessful. Luso Digital Assets reported a similar situation.
Pedro Guimaraes, the founder of Mind the Coin, was quoted as lamenting:
“Although there is no official explanation, some banks just tell us that they don’t want to work with crypto companies. It is almost impossible to start a crypto business in Portugal right now.
As recently as April this year, Spanish tax lawyers were reporting that Spaniards holding crypto assets were “fleeing” to Portugal to escape levies on their token-related profits. They warned that Spain is on the verge of becoming a “crypto wasteland” as the country steps up its regulation of the sector.
But the mood has since changed in Portugal, with the government now seemingly determined to regulate. Two bills proposing the imminent imposition of a crypto-related tax were defeated in parliament in May, but both came from smaller opposition parties. The ruling party is likely to formulate its own bill, which some say will soon be submitted to the Assembly of the Republic.
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