Friday

24th May 2019

International banking giant pressured to block Israel and Russia

  • Russia's banks will continue to use Swift (Photo: SWIFT)

The international wire transfer system Swift will not block Russia or Israel from its services following requests for it to do so.

The Belgian-based firm on Monday (6 October) said it had received calls to disconnect institutions and entire countries – most recently Israel and Russia - from its network.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“Any decision to impose sanctions on countries or individual entities rests solely with the competent government bodies and applicable legislators,” it said in a statement.

It did not specify who made the requests.

But Haaretz reports pro-Palestinian organizations made the requests in reaction to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and recent military campaign in the Gaza Strip.

Bloomberg reports the UK had proposed blocking Russia from Swift in the run-up to an EU summit in August even though the option was not formally considered.

Summit leaders at the time were discussing wider economic sanctions and travel bans in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Behind the scenes, the Americans had also floated the Swift idea on Russia.

The Financial Times, citing Russia’s former finance minister, says blocking Russia’s access to Swift could see the country’s gross domestic product contract by up to 5 percent.

Russian banks rely on Swift to make domestic and international payments, it notes.

The European Parliament, for its part, in September made similar demands in a resolution. It asked the EU to “consider excluding Russia from civil nuclear co-operation and the Swift system”.

It would not be the first time the firm has been asked to impose a ban.

In March 2012, it disconnected 25 Iranian banks from its networks following an EU regulation on financial sanctions.

Swift in its statement on Monday said the political pressure and media speculations run the risk of undermining its operations and services.

“As a utility with a systemic global character, it has no authority to make sanctions decisions,” it reaffirmed.

The company was already dragged into the wider scandal of indiscriminate global surveillance last year when leaked documents from a former National Security Agency contractor said the US was hacking into Swift to access people’s financial details.

Swift describes itself as a neutral global cooperative set up under Belgian law.

The firm provides services to over 10,500 financial institutions and corporations in over 200 jurisdictions around the world. Payment orders are said to total around €4.7 trillion a day.

The company was set up in 1973 and is overseen by the G-10 central banks: Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States, Switzerland, and Sweden as well as the European Central Bank.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

EU urges US not to start war with Iran

Europe's top diplomats have said US actions risked triggering a conflict with Iran, as America makes plans to pour troops into Middle East in echoes of Iraq war.

EU-Sahel talks next week amid 'unprecedented attacks'

Officials from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger are meeting EU foreign, defence, and development ministers next week in Brussels. The visit comes amid "unprecedented levels" of armed attacks, says the UN.

News in Brief

  1. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  2. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal
  3. UK sacked defence secretary backs Johnson for leader
  4. Dutch voter turnout so far slightly down on 2014
  5. Report: Hungary's Fidesz 'bought' Belgian official
  6. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  7. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  8. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  2. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  3. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal
  4. EU should stop an insane US-Iran war
  5. EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday
  6. Dutch MPs: EU sanctions should bear Magnitsky name
  7. Far-right hate speech flooded Facebook ahead of EU vote
  8. Key details on how Europeans will vote

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us