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Russia gets seat in SWIFT board of directors — media

March 11, 2015, 12:58 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The threat of Russia’s possible disconnection from SWIFT has not affected this decision, which was based on growing payment traffic in Russia through the international bank messaging system
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MOSCOW, March 11. /TASS/. International bank message system SWIFT will include Russia’s representative in its board of directors, Russian business paper RBC reported on Wednesday.

The threat of Russia’s possible disconnection from SWIFT has not affected this decision, which was based on growing payment traffic in Russia through the international bank messaging system, the paper said.

SWIFT redistributes the shares (units) of its participants once every three years. Each country gets the number of units proportionate to its payment traffic in the system.

In 2014, SWIFT redistributed 10% of the shares, which prompted changes in the composition of its board of directors.

"Following the results of 2014, SWIFT’s growing traffic in Russia allowed us to reach the 13th place in the world. That is why, Russia has increased its share to the level, which allows it to nominate its candidate to the board of directors," Russia’s RosSWIFT Association Executive Director Roman Chernov said.

Russia has taken up Hong Kong’s place in the SWIFT’s board of directors.

SWIFT will hold a business forum on April 16 where a general meeting of RosSWIFT’s members will nominate a candidate to the international bank message system’s board of directors, Chernov said.

A new board of 25 directors will be approved at an annual meeting of SWIFT’s shareholders in June, after which the Russian director will assume his duties for a term of three years.

Russia's possible disconnection from SWIFT

Last year, Western countries considered disconnecting Russia from SWIFT as a possible sanction over Russia’s stance on developments in neighboring Ukraine. The proposal was made by UK Prime Minister David Cameron and was also mentioned in a resolution of the European parliament.

SWIFT representatives said, however, they were not going to disconnect Russia from their system, despite political pressure they were experiencing. Being EU-based, SWIFT may disconnect Russia only if a relevant decision is made by the EU authorities, the international bank message system said.

The Russian Central Bank has already started testing alternatives to SWIFT in Russia over the threat of Russia’s possible disconnection.

The Central Bank provided domestic banks access from December 2014 to its alternative to the SWIFT bank message system for transactions inside Russia.

Russia’s Central Bank has said the new service is intended to ensure uninterrupted and secure transfer of financial messages inside the country.

Deputy Director of the Central Bank’s National Payment System Department Ramilya Kanafina said in November the regulator planned to complete establishing an alternative to the SWIFT international financial message system in May 2015.

The regulator also planned to establish a separate SWIFT-format processing center, she added.

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) transmits 1.8 billion communications a year, remitting payment orders worth $6 trillion a day. The system comprises over 9,000 banks from 209 countries.

Under the SWIFT charter, groups of members and users are set up in each country covered by the system. In Russia, these groups are united in the RosSWIFT association.

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