The financial messaging service for most international money transfers has told U.S. officials it is prepared to cut off Iran’s central bank, according to people involved in the talks, an action that would be a blow to Iran’s already battered economy.
The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, known as Swift, dispatched its top lawyer to Washington for discussions this week in response to proposed U.S. legislation targeting Swift and its board, whose chairman is Yawar Shah of Citigroup Inc. and deputy chairman is Stephan Zimmermann of UBS AG.
“We need to choose at this point if we want Iran to get a nuclear bomb or take the chance that oil markets will spike,” he said.
“They want to be able to say, ‘We are governed by European law and only if the Europeans tell us we have to remove these institutions do we comply,’” Dubowitz, who has advised lawmakers and the administration on the implications of a Swift ban on Iran, said in an interview. “Otherwise, they risk becoming a political football if China asks them to expel Taiwanese banks, for example.”