Dutch Crypto Firms Secure Partial Legal Victory Against Regulatory Fees
Crypto firms in the Netherlands, including Bitvavo and Coinmerce, have achieved a partial victory in their legal battle against fees totaling $2.3 million imposed by Dutch regulators. They argued that these fees were excessive and discriminatory.
On Wednesday, October 4, a Rotterdam court has ruled that the Dutch Central Bank (DNB) exceeded its legal authority by charging crypto companies for registration related to anti-money laundering requirements. The court found that these fees violated European Union law.
The court ruled that the DNB violated EU anti-money laundering laws by assessing registration requests in a manner that was deemed unlawful for charging supervisory costs in 2021. However, the court clarified that while the fee for 2021 was considered unlawful, these companies should still be subject to general governance norms and supervision.
It’s worth noting that this ruling only pertains to the fees for 2021. A separate case is ongoing for fees related to 2022, and the crypto companies will still be required to pay a portion of the costs of supervision.
The court found that the DNB had not provided sufficient justification for the fees it imposed on crypto companies and that these fees were overly burdensome for the companies. The crypto firms have expressed their willingness to pay their fair share of supervision costs but argued that the DNB’s bill was excessive and could hamper the growth of the Dutch crypto industry.
The United Bitcoin Companies of the Netherlands (VBNL), which coordinated the complaint against the DNB, welcomed the court’s decision, emphasizing that the costs should not have been imposed as they were outside the DNB’s mandate.
Patrick van der Meijde, the president of the United Bitcoin Companies of the Netherlands (VBNL), stated:
“My organization was pleased that the court has found that the registration obligation resulting from [EU anti-money laundering legislation] has been violated in the Netherlands.”
Dutch Central Bank Stresses Taxpayers Shouldn’t Bear Crypto Sector Oversight Costs
Despite the court ruling, the Dutch Central Bank (DNB) underscored that taxpayers should not shoulder the substantial costs associated with supervising the crypto sector, as this falls outside the scope of their mandate.
However, a spokesperson for the DNB acknowledged the court’s ruling and expressed their intention to hold further discussions with the finance ministry on the matter.
The DNB reiterated that it had operated in accordance with Dutch laws and regulations. They emphasized that the ruling reaffirms their mandate to conduct adequate money-laundering supervision of the cryptocurrency sector, along with other financial institutions.
It’s important to note that European financial regulators typically fund their operations through fees charged to the entities under their oversight relative to their size. Van der Meijde pointed out that the total supervisory fees for the crypto sector in 2022 amounted to 2.2 million euros ($2.3 million), a figure that tends to rise annually.
Netherlands Known For its Strict Fines and Regulatory Hurdles on Crypto Firms
The Netherlands has taken a strict stance on crypto firms, imposing significant fines on industry giants like Coinbase and Binance for their failure to register. In June, regulators in the Netherlands accused Binance, one of the largest crypto exchanges globally, of providing services to Dutch customers without the proper license and authorization.
In response, Binance directed its Dutch users to the rival crypto exchange Coinmerce, which had been registered with the central bank since 2020. This move signalled Binance’s decision to halt operations in the Netherlands.
In late September, the crypto exchange Gemini announced its withdrawal from the Dutch market, citing stringent regulations from the Dutch Central Bank (DNB) and the challenges in meeting these regulatory requirements. However, Gemini expressed its intention to re-enter the Dutch market at a later date.
As a result of this decision, Gemini advised its customers in the Netherlands to either withdraw their assets or transfer them to another wallet address. The platform is set to suspend payment operations in the country by November 17.