WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Belgium-based SWIFT financial messaging service said on Monday it is suspending some unspecified Iranian banks’ access to its messaging system in the interest of the stability and integrity of the global financial system.
In a brief statement, SWIFT made no mention of U.S. sanctions coming back into effect on some Iranian financial institutions on Monday as part of U.S. President Donald Trump’s effort to force Iran to curtail its nuclear, missile and regional activities.
The SWIFT statement said suspending the Iranian banks access to the messaging system was a “regrettable” step but was “taken in the interest of the stability and integrity of the wider global financial system.”
Having abandoned the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Trump is trying to cripple Iran’s oil-dependent economy and force Tehran to quash not only its nuclear ambitions and its ballistic missile program but its support for militant proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East.
SWIFT’s decision not to mention the resumption of U.S. sanctions likely reflects the fact that it is caught between two contrary regulatory demands.
The U.S. government has told SWIFT that it is expected to comply with U.S. sanctions and it could face U.S. sanctions if it fails to do so. On the other hand, SWIFT is barred from doing so under the European Union’s so-called blocking statute, which could subject it to European penalties for complying with U.S. law.
Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Bill Trott