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Russia won’t be cut off from SWIFT international bank transfer services

Russia won’t be cut off from SWIFT international bank transfer services
Financial messaging system SWIFT will not ban Russia despite sanctions and is staying politically neutral, according to its CEO, Gottfried Leibbrandt, as quoted by Russian media.

Leibbrandt is in Moscow, and has again stressed that SWIFT remains politically unbiased, according to reports by RBC, Vedomosti and other Russian business media.

The potential exclusion of Russia from SWIFT worried the country’s banks in 2014, when the EU and the US introduced the first round of international sanctions against Moscow over alleged involvement in the Ukraine crisis and the reunification with Crimea. However, SWIFT itself fended off such talk. The question was raised again this April after the latest economic sanctions against Russia.

The position of SWIFT is consistent and professional, says Russian representative on the board of directors of SWIFT, Eddie Astanin. “Earlier in 2014, and also in March this year, SWIFT made official statements that give a clear answer: SWIFT will not respond to pressure attempts and calls to disconnect financial institutions from its network," he told Vedomosti.

Last year, Russian traffic within SWIFT grew by 40 percent to 116 million messages, and Russia has been on the board of directors of the interbank cash transfer network since 2015, along with 24 other countries, the largest users of the system.

Despite SWIFT’s promises, the Central Bank of Russia has developed an alternative domestic system for transfer of financial messages (SPFS). Russian state tech giant Rostec announced last week it will use the SPFS to make its payments safer.

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