SWIFT has been instructed by the European Union to discontinue its communications services to Iranian financial institutions that are subject to European sanctions.
The European Council decision, confirmed by the Belgian Treasury today, prohibits companies such as SWIFT to continue to provide specialised financial messaging services to EU-sanctioned Iranian banks. SWIFT is incorporated under Belgian law and has to comply with this decision as confirmed by its home country government.
"This EU decision forces SWIFT to take action" said Lázaro Campos, chief executive of SWIFT. "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 EU-sanctioned Iranian financial institutions and the SWIFT customer community have been notified of the disconnection, which will become effective on Saturday 17 March at 16.00 GMT.
By Neil Ainger