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Judge Cancels Trial in Custodia vs Fed Case, Summary Judgment Looms

In a recent development in the legal battle between Custodia Bank and the US Federal Reserve (Fed), a federal judge has canceled the scheduled trial, indicating that a decision based on summary judgment is forthcoming. This move is a critical juncture in a case that has wider implications for the cryptocurrency industry in the United States, particularly in the context of the government’s Operation Chokepoint 2.0 strategy, which is perceived as an effort to limit the crypto sector’s access to banking services.

The judge in the @custodiabank case against the Fed has cancelled the scheduled trial, signaling that a ruling on summary judgment is imminent.

A ruling against the Fed would be a major blow to the government’s Operation Chokepoint 2.0 attack on crypto.

More on the case here👇 https://t.co/qhJSL1V7cq

— MetaLawMan (@MetaLawMan) March 7, 2024

Background of the Custodia vs. Fed Case

The case focuses on the efforts of Custodia Bank to obtain a master account from the Federal Reserve. The primary purpose of such an account is to ensure the bank’s efficient operation which includes direct access to the FedWire network for carrying out substantial real-time payment transfers. Following a comprehensive review of the summary-judgment briefing and submissions by all parties, the court declared a mistrial.

As per the court submissions, the determination of the court on the merits of the case can be done without a tria without a trial based on the extensive record currently before it. This development has been interpreted by some, including financial historian Peter Conti-Brown, as an indication that the Federal Reserve may face defeat in this landmark case.

🚨NEW: Revered financial historian and @Wharton professor @PeterContiBrown says he believes the Court’s decision to skip trial in the case of @custodiabank vs. @federalreserve means the Fed is about to lose the case.

A decision from the judge is coming “forthwith” (soon). https://t.co/XODrKvtB56

— Eleanor Terrett (@EleanorTerrett) March 6, 2024

Implications for the US Crypto Industry

The application of Custodia Bank for a master account, submitted in October 2020, has become a key issue. The bank further argues that direct access to the Federal Reserve would help it to cut down costs and improve upon its digital asset strategy.

Nonetheless, the Federal Reserve’s cautiousness (blaming “novel risks”) and delaying of the application process far beyond the usual time frame prompted Custodia to file a lawsuit claiming “unlawful delay” under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).

A victory for Custodia, in this case, would spell not only a crucial triumph for the bank but also a probably new reality in the financial world for the US crypto businesses, mostly as a result of the March 2023 banking collapse that took down crucial banking institutions that served the crypto sector.

Operation Chokepoint 2.0

The case against the Federal Reserve is set against the backdrop of what is referred to as Operation Chokepoint 2.0, a government initiative that critics say targets the financial dealings of certain business sectors, including cryptocurrencies.

The October Office of Inspector General (OIG) report confirmed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)’s restrictive actions towards the crypto industry, such as issuing “pause letters” to banks and requiring prior approval for crypto-related activities without clear criteria or definitive timelines. This regulatory environment has contributed to a challenging atmosphere for crypto businesses seeking reliable banking partners.

As the court prepares to make a ruling based on the summary judgment, the outcome of the Custodia vs. Federal Reserve case is poised to have profound implications for the cryptocurrency industry and its interaction with the traditional banking sector. A decision in favor of Custodia could pave the way for greater integration and acceptance of digital assets within the US financial system while also challenging the current regulatory stance encapsulated by Operation Chokepoint 2.0.

Read Also: Hong Kong’s Financial Leap with Wholesale CBDC for Token Market

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