UANI Launches SWIFT Campaign

February 1, 2012
Contact: Nathan Carleton, [email protected]
Phone: (212) 554-3296


UANI Launches SWIFT Campaign
Calls on SWIFT to Terminate Its Relationships with Iran's Banks and Financial Institutions

New York, NY - On Wednesday, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) launched it SWIFT campaign, and publicly called on the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication ("SWIFT") to terminate its relationship with Iranian banks and financial institutions.

SWIFT is the global means by which financial institutions transfer money to each other. Nearly every financial institution in the world-including in Iran-utilizes a unique SWIFT-assigned Business Identifier Code ("BIC"), which permits it to exchange and remit funds with other SWIFT members.

On Monday January 30, based on research and information developed over the past weeks, UANI submitted a detailed legal explanation to SWIFT, international banking and regulatory officials, and U.S. lawmakers, showing how SWIFT is in violation of U.S. and EU sanctions by affording Iranian banks BICs and access to the SWIFT system.

UANI also noted that SWIFT's activities with Iran's Central Bank and other institutions violate SWIFT's own corporate rules stipulating that "its services should not be used to facilitate illegal activities."

In a letter to SWIFT Chairman of the Board of Directors Yawar Shah, delivered to SWIFT's headquarters in Belgium and the United States, UANI President, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, wrote:

... [T]he global SWIFT system is used by Iran to finance its nuclear weapons program, to finance terrorist activities and to provide the financial support necessary to brutally repress its own people. The SWIFT 2010 Annual Review states that in 2010 Iran's 19 SWIFT member banks and 25 connected institutions had sent 1.160 million messages and received 1.105 messages - a 0.7% increase in messages sent and received since 2009. ("SWIFT Annual Review 2010," April 2011).   Including branches, departments and head offices, there are 675 SWIFT codes listed for these institutions in Iran.   (The SWIFT Codes Website, "Iran," accessed 01/27/2012).   Each is a conduit for financing individual activities and in total they comprise the sole systemic means for Iran to access the global banking system.

Absent access to SWIFT, the dictatorial regime of Iran would be severely impeded in financing these illegal and amoral activities. SWIFT's continued presence in Iran provides the essential electronic means for the Iranian regime to finance its activities. For each day that SWIFT knowingly continues to provide Iran access to the international financial system, SWIFT will be increasingly complicit in Iran's nefarious behavior. SWIFT must immediately end its activities with Iranian financial institutions, and deny Iranian financial institutions access to the SWIFT system.

The United States and the EU have enacted a series of sweeping sanctions against Iran, including against Iran's Central Bank. Yet, Iran's Central Bank continues to have access to the international financial system through SWIFT. Even a cursory review of the Central Bank's website reveals the Bank's SWIFT code for transactions as BMJIIRTH. (Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran, "Contact," accessed 01/27/2012)


SWIFT should responsibly end all SWIFT access to all Iranian banks. As it stands, SWIFT is in violation of law if it has continued to provide SWIFT access to sanctioned designated banks. Please immediately cease and desist from providing SWIFT access to these entities.

SWIFT's role in the Iranian financial system violates various sanctions laws including U.S. law and EU law. SWIFT's omnipresence in the United States financial system clearly subjects it to U.S. law including sanctions and other financial restrictions on business in Iran.


SWIFT's own Corporate Rules prohibit its activities in Iran. Under Section 1.4.1(1) of SWIFT'S Corporate Rules entitled "Responsibilities", "[i]t is SWIFT policy that its services should not be used to facilitate illegal activities." ... By permitting Iranian sanction-designated financial institutions, including Iran's Central Bank, and/or non-designated Iranian financial institutions to access SWIFT clearly runs afoul of SWIFT's own rules. SWIFT must deny Iran's Central Bank and all Iranian financial institutions access to the SWIFT system.

UANI has requested a reply on or before February 6, 2012.

Click here to read UANI's full letter to SWIFT.
Click here to send a message to SWIFT.