Payments system SWIFT to cut off Iranian banks

By REUTERS
March 15, 2012 18:03

 
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BRUSSELS - Belgium-based SWIFT, which facilitates the bulk of global cross-border payments, will on Saturday cut off Iranian banks blacklisted by the European Union over Tehran's nuclear program after an EU order and pressure from the United States.

SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) said in a statement on Thursday it would disconnect Iranian financial institutions affected by the sanctions from its messaging system on Saturday at 1600 GMT.

"This EU decision forces SWIFT to take action," SWIFT Chief Executive Lazaro Campos said. "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."

The move followed a decision by the European Union Council, which represents EU member states, to tighten asset freezes on a number of people and entities associated with Iran's nuclear activities, which western powers think aim to produce a weapon.

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