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Europe unlikely to cut Russia off SWIFT — VTB bank CEO

September 19, 2014, 15:03 UTC+3 SOCHI

The European Parliament called on the European Union on Thursday to consider cutting Russia off the SWIFT inter-bank financial message system

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VTB Group CEO Andrei Kostin

VTB Group CEO Andrei Kostin

© ITAR-TASS/Anton Novoderezhkin

SOCHI, September 19. /ITAR-TASS/. The European Union will not cut Russia off the SWIFT inter-bank financial system, Andrei Kostin, the chief executive officer VTB Group, Russia's second largest bank, said on Friday.

"I think this is not going to happen. I would have called it an act of direct aggression against Russia's financial system with all subsequent consequences. This is a very tough measure," Kostin said at an international investment forum in Sochi.

What can blocking SWIFT lead to?

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 10,000 financial organizations from 210 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.

Russia's former finance minister Alexei Kudrin said on Tuesday that blocking Russia's access to the SWIFT might cause Russia’s GDP to shrink by 5%

“If the SWIFT system is cut off after all, this factor alone may cause a GDP contraction by up to 5% during the year since the restriction is imposed,” Kudrin said.

European Parliament hostile resolution and reaction of SWIFT

The European Parliament discussed at its plenary session on Thursday the Ukraine crisis and the relations between the European Union and Russia.

The resolution, adopted at the session, ran that the European Union should consider excluding Russia from the SWIFT system and cancelling agreements with Moscow in the energy sector, including the South Stream pipeline project. 

However, SWIFT said in a statement that recommendations to cut Russia off the inter-bank financial system were violating the company’s rules and are causing huge damage to its reputation.


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