Who is in control of SWIFT sanctions?

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The Politicus
Mar 29, 2022 08:22 AM 0 Answers
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After the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine in 2022, several Russian banks were banned from using SWIFT. According to Wikipedia, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), is a Belgian cooperative society providing services related to the execution of financial transactions and payments between banks worldwide and owned by its member financial institutions. That sounds like a society privately owned by private companies. But the various news articles describing the ban of some Russian banks from SWIFT, or the call to ban all Russian banks from SWIFT, it sounds like a decision taken by EU and USA.

Who controls SWIFT? How does the governance work on questions such as sanctioning banks or entire countries? Can individual countries ban other countries from SWIFT, or (conversely) veto a ban on other countries from SWIFT?

On their own website, SWIFT writes that SWIFT is incorporated under Belgian law and has to comply with this decision as confirmed by its home country government, which sounds like Belgium theoretically has the sole power to exclude entire countries from SWIFT, but SWIFT also complies with sanctions imposed by the U.S. alone, which makes the situation unclear again.

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