Payments and Politics: Uncharted Waters AS SWIFT Ejects Iran

by Mercator Advisory Group 0

Iran’s government continues to pursue its policy of developing nuclear capability, and The United States and the European Union continue to tighten the restrictions intended to force Iran to cease those actions, by prohibiting the delivery of services. In response to the EU ruling, Brussels-based SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) will discontinue payments to all institutions associated with Iran.

SWIFT Chief Executive Lazaro Campos was quoted on Thursday, March 15:
“This EU decision forces SWIFT to take action. Disconnecting banks is an extraordinary and unprecedented step for SWIFT. It is a direct result of international and multilateral action to intensify financial sanctions against Iran.”

According to Reuters sources in the Chicago Tribune:
“Nineteen banks and 25 affiliated institutions from Iran made a total of 2 million cross-border payments using SWIFT in 2010. They included banks the U.S. accuses of financing Iran’s nuclear program or terrorism – Mellat, Post, Saderat and Sepah.”

The objective of the international community is to strangle the flow of funds generated by Iranian oil sales, to prevent their use to develop the nuclear program. The wider ramifications and potential side effects of SWIFT’s actions remain unclear.

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