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Information about Payment Transactions through the SWIFT Network

We would like to inform you about how foreign payments are processed, and explain the reasons and the fact that all of your information, stated for the purpose of international transactions (name, address, account number, amount, and purpose of payment, if stated), can become part of the information provided by the SWIFT company to the US Finance Department, for the purpose of fighting terrorism.

All banks execute their clients’ international payment transfers through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) established under Belgian law, and with its seat in Belgium.  If banks wish to offer their clients global payment services (i.e., payment operations to and from abroad), they currently have no option other than to use the services of the SWIFT network.  The reason is, above all, that SWIFT satisfies their high requirements, as to security standards, both in terms of the technical and organisational arrangements for those payments.  Furthermore, no other organisation provides services to the same, worldwide extent.  SWIFT has operations centres in Europe and in the USA, where it temporarily stores all of the data from all executed financial transactions.

Since 11 September 2001, the US Finance Department has required, on the basis of a court order, the SWIFT operations centre in the USA to provide it information about certain payment transactions for the purpose of fighting terrorism.  According to the information provided by SWIFT’s representatives, there is an agreement between SWIFT and the US Finance Department that ensures that the volume of data required is limited to only what is absolutely necessary, and which sets out that such data can only be used for fighting terrorism.  The entire matter is addressed on the international level, especially between European institutions and SWIFT, with an emphasis on the part of European legislation that governs the protection of personal data, and also with a view to the European legal regulation of bank secrets.

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