Almost a year since Iranian banks were cut off from the SWIFT electronic payment system, recent reports have suggested that they have been trying to circumvent these sanctions. SWIFT, which operates the world’s biggest payment platform covering over 10,000 financial institutions across 210 countries, made the disconnect on 17 March 2012 after an EU Council decision prohibited provision of financial messaging services to blacklisted Iranian banks.

“Recent reporting in the Wall Street Journal inaccurately implies SWIFT has knowledge of EU-sanctioned Iranian entities ‘dodging’ international financial sanctions,” a SWIFT spokesperson told MEES. “SWIFT has no knowledge whatsoever of specific instances where alternate financial messaging is being used by sanctioned banks which have been disconnected,” she said, noting that the use by sanctioned Iranian banks of alternative methods to SWIFT are “matters of general market speculation.” Alternatives, she explained, are inconvenient, slower, less accurate and less efficient, although any bank has the option to use alternative providers or to send financial messages using ISO financial messaging standards by fax, telex or mail. SWIFT will continue to comply with sanctions and any attempt to circumvent them is “a matter for regulators and policy makers,” she said. SWIFT notes it has no involvement in or control over the underlying financial transactions that are contained in the messages of its member banks. (CONTINUED - 295 WORDS)