Brussels, 6 October 2014 - SWIFT and its stakeholders have received calls to disconnect institutions and entire countries from its network – most recently Israel and Russia.
SWIFT is a neutral global cooperative company set up under Belgian law. It was established by and for its members to create a shared worldwide messaging service and a common language for international transactions. SWIFT provides services to over 10,500 financial institutions and corporations in over 200 jurisdictions around the world. SWIFT is a critical service provider to the financial industry and plays a pivotal role in supporting international commerce and trade.
SWIFT services are designed to facilitate its customers’ compliance with sanctions and other regulations, however SWIFT will not make unilateral decisions to disconnect institutions from its network as a result of political pressure.
SWIFT regrets the pressure, as well as the surrounding media speculation, both of which risk undermining the systemic character of the services that SWIFT provides its customers around the world. As a utility with a systemic global character, it has no authority to make sanctions decisions.
Any decision to impose sanctions on countries or individual entities rests solely with the competent government bodies and applicable legislators. Being EU-based, SWIFT complies fully with all applicable European law.
SWIFT will not respond to individual calls and pressure to disconnect financial institutions from its network.
Founded in 1973, SWIFT is a global provider of secure financial messaging services headquartered in Belgium. The Company is operated for the collective benefit of its Shareholders, to facilitate the study, creation, utilisation and operation of the means necessary for the telecommunication, transmission and routing of private, confidential and proprietary financial messages.
As a member-owned cooperative connecting more than 10,500 banks, financial institutions and corporations in over 200 countries and territories around the world, the company’s mission is to act and operate in the interest of its entire member community, reflecting its global membership.
SWIFT has a wide and growing range of financial crime compliance tools, including sanctions screening and sanctions testing services. The cooperative’s focus is to help its users in meeting their responsibilities in complying with national and international regulations. SWIFT is purely a messaging service provider and has no involvement in or control over the underlying financial transactions that are mentioned in their messages carried through its system. Responsibility for ensuring that individual financial transactions comply with sanctions laws therefore rests with the financial institutions handling them, and their competent authorities.
As a strategic international financial messaging service provider to the financial industry, SWIFT 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), under the lead of the National Bank of Belgium.
Additionally, the SWIFT Oversight Forum provides a setting for the G-10 central banks to share information on SWIFT oversight activities with a wider group of central banks. In the Oversight Forum the G10 central banks are joined by banks from major economies (Reserve Bank of Australia, People's Bank of China, Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Reserve Bank of India, Bank of Korea, Bank of Russia, Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, Monetary Authority of Singapore, South African Reserve Bank and the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey).
SWIFT is and always has been in full compliance with applicable sanctions. In March 2012, pursuant to international and multilateral action to intensify financial sanctions against Iran, EU Regulation 267/2012 was passed. The Regulation prohibits specialised financial messaging providers, such as SWIFT, from providing services to EU-sanctioned Iranian banks. SWIFT is incorporated under Belgian law and has to comply with this regulation as confirmed by its home country government. SWIFT implemented the regulatory obligation by disconnecting the related EU-sanctioned Iranian banks.
For more information, please refer to our website http://www.swift.com/ or contact:
Tel: +32 2 655 3377