Western allies agree to ‘Swift ban’ for some Russian banks


(The Guardian) The US, Canada and key European countries, including Germany, have agreed to remove “selected Russian banks” from the Swift payment system, the countries announced on Saturday.

“As Russian forces unleash their assault on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, we are resolved to continue imposing costs on Russia that will further isolate Russia from the international financial system and our economies. We will implement these measures within the coming days,” a statement from the leaders of the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Canada, and the US said.

Swift is the world’s main international payments network. Several countries have already expressed support for locking Russia out of the platform, and Germany, which had previously opposed the measure, lent its support earlier today.

The joint statement on Saturday made the move official, although few details were given as to when the Swift removal will take place, and which Russian banks will be targeted.

“We commit to ensuring that selected Russian banks are removed from the SWIFT messaging system. This will ensure that these banks are disconnected from the international financial system and harm their ability to operate globally,” the countries said.

“Second, we commit to imposing restrictive measures that will prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves in ways that undermine the impact of our sanctions.”

The countries also said they would take measures “to limit the sale of citizenship – so called golden passports – that let wealthy Russians connected to the Russian government become citizens of our countries and gain access to our financial systems”.

They also announced plans to launch a “transatlantic task force” which will ensure sanctions on Russians remain effective that will ensure the effective implementation of our financial sanctions by identifying and freezing the assets of sanctioned individuals and companies that exist within our jurisdictions.

“As a part of this effort we are committed to employing sanctions and other financial and enforcement measures on additional Russian officials and elites close to the Russian government, as well as their families, and their enablers to identify and freeze the assets they hold in our jurisdictions.

We will also engage other governments and work to detect and disrupt the movement of ill-gotten gains, and to deny these individuals the ability to hide their assets in jurisdictions across the world.”

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