Friday, March 16, 2012

EU's SWIFT Cutoff: Financial Embargo of Iran?

Europeans did what Americans proposed.  They cut off international processing of messages for a number of Iranian banks.  This service is provided by SWIFT, a Belgium banking cooperative.  FinExtra reported:

US politicians proposed a bill that would block Iranian banks from using the Swift network. At the time Swift said that it complies with "all applicable sanctions laws of the multiple jurisdictions in which we operate".

In 2007 the U.S. and Europe needed SWIFT to monitor terrorist financing activity.  Now that Iran is a "state sponsor of terrorism," the West will turn off their detection tool.

Lázaro Campos, CEO, Swift, says: "This 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."
FinExtra provided information on the nature of European trade with Iran.

In 2010, 19 Iranian banks and 25 Iranian entities reportedly used Swift more than two million times, transacting $35 billion in trade with Europe alone.

There is no way a stressed EU will choke off $35 billion in trade on a long term basis.  The West wants greater access to Iranian oil and its economy.  To garner such, Iran, like Iraq and Libya, must be taught a lesson.  I expect it to be a swift kick in backside, courtesy of America's 51st state, Israel.