SWIFT cuts off sanctioned Iranian banks


WASHINGTON — The banking entity responsible for processing electronic bank transfers is cutting ties with Iranian banks sanctioned by the European Union. 

In response to European Union sanctions, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) announced Thursday that it was discontinuing its services to Iranian financial institutions subject to EU sanctions. 

SWIFT serves as the final entry point for electronic transactions before entering the global financial system. 

In a press release, SWIFT CEO Lazaro Campos explained that the recent 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,” Campos said in the statement.

SWIFT has been the subject of potential sanctions over the past months, with new congressional legislation aimed at closing loopholes that Iranian banks were exploiting to skirt sanctions. 

U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) recently introduced legislation that would force SWIFT to end its operations with all Iranian banks, not just sanctioned banks.