A Danish court has upheld a ban imposed by Nordea Bank which stipulates that its 31,500 employees are prohibited from trading Bitcoin, or any other cryptocurrency, even in their free time. The case has huge civil liberties connotations and strikes at the very heart of Bitcoin’s reason for being, although those already holding crypto will not be forced to sell.
Nordea Reaches into Employees’ Private Lives
Nordea Bank introduced the ban as far back as January 2018, but Denmark’s union for financial industry employees, Finansforbundet, filed suit against it, arguing that the bank could not control what employees do in their free time:
We filed suit because of the principle that everyone obviously has a private life and the right to act as a private individual. It was important for us and our members to establish what rights managers have. In this case, it was more far-reaching than what we find to be appropriate.
However, after spending some time debating the case, the Copenhagen-based court came down on the side of the bank, stating that “the risks were too high” for individuals to be allowed to involve themselves in the trading of digital assets, meaning that anyone caught involving themselves in the practice could find themselves on the wrong side of a gross misconduct case.
Nordea Associating Bitcoin with illegal Activity?
The rules drawn up by the bank, and sanctioned by the court, provide for the ability for existing holders to keep any crypto they already own, which is good news for those who stockpiled ahead of the decision, although the bank does state that “All employees are encouraged…to sell their holdings”, adding that employees are “not allowed to increase existing holdings”.
Addressing the charge that personal freedoms are being impinged by the action, Nordea’s Chief Compliance Officer, Matthew Elderfield, is quoted in the ruling document that working for Nordea “places high demands on our behavior, resulting in limitations on our behavior and economic conditions”. This apparently manifests itself in the suggestion that “there are certain things bank employees cannot do with their own money!” It seems that Elderfield is making the mistake that many have made in the past and is associating Bitcoin trading with illegal activity. If so, this is an utterly preposterous position given that the US dollar is still the medium of choice for drugs cartels and terrorists.