Swift bans UN-blacklisted North Korean banks
Swift has cut off three North Korean banks from its messaging system under United Nations (UN) sanctions, after Belgium says it would no longer give authorisation for such transactions.
According to Reuters, North Korea’s “intensifying provocations”, such as missile launches, led to the Belgian foreign ministry’s decision. Let’s face it – the nation behaves like a prat. North Korea, not Belgium.
The three affected banks named by the UN panel are Bank of East Land, Korea Daesong Bank and Korea Kwangson Banking Corp. In fact, Bank of East Land was blacklisted in 2013, while the other two were blacklisted last year. North Korea is also one of the lowest users of Swift’s messaging service.
However, according to Reuters, the Belgian move also follows a UN report last month which said any company trading with a designated North Korean bank would be in violation of UN sanctions – even if the company had received an authorisation from a European government to do so.
Reuters says: “The report found evidence North Korea was relying on continued access to the international banking system to flout sanctions.
“The UN position put the Belgian government at odds with UN sanctions as it had given Swift exemptions to work with the sanctioned North Korean banks.
“The UN report said only the UN Security Council Committee could determine whether a company could qualify for an exemption to trade with sanctioned banks – not individual governments.”
A spokeswoman for the European Commission (EC) said the EU’s system of offering exemptions was “consistent with those of the UN”.
It did not say exactly when the services were suspended or how many banks were affected.
Swift spoke to Reuters and says it complies with all sanctions regulations but it also believes in being politically independent and keeping the system as open as possible. Swift says it has previously pushed back against efforts to have countries like Iran and Russia excluded from the service.