The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) has criticised a proposal by the UK to ban Russian oganisations from using the network as a form of sanction.
The UK suggested blocking Russian companies from Swift at an EU meeting. This was suggested as a sanction in reaction to Russia’s role in the current crisis in Ukraine. The European Parliament has since asked the EU member states to consider excluding Russia. The European Parliament voted through a non-binding resolution, which means it is not a law.
Swift has responded to the proposal claiming its reputation has been damaged as a result of being linked with the crisis in Ukraine.
"Under fundamental principles of European law, enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the singling out of Swift in this manner interferes disproportionately with Swift's fundamental right to conduct business and its right to property,” said a Swift statement.
“It also constitutes discriminatory and unequal treatment. Explicitly mentioning Swift in a European Parliament resolution of this kind on such an international sensitive matter also creates immense damage to our company's reputation. Our mission remains to be a global and neutral service provider to the financial industry.
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"The provision of financial messaging services to Russian entities is not affected by the current measures in force.”
Swift is a not-for-profit co-operative whose network sends millions of financial transaction messages every day across more than 200 countries.
The service began in 1973, with 239 banks sharing the communications services. It is now a major connection to the global finance system for Russian businesses, and is used by about 3,500 finance firms worldwide.
Swift has cut off a country’s banks before as a result of EU sanctions. In March 2012, the EU prohibited specialised financial messaging providers, such as Swift, from providing services to EU-sanctioned Iranian banks.