Under Sanctions, Iran Replaces SWIFT with Indigenous Version
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Central Bank of Iran has developed a home-made financial telecommunications system, known as SEPAM, as a replacement for SWIFT.
Developed to get around the unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran, electronic financial messaging system (whose acronym in Farsi is SEPAM) has been introduced by the country’s Central Bank as a substitute for a global network brought by Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT.
“The electronic financial messaging system (SEPAM) has been designed and implemented given the banking network’s need for establishment of an integrated, centralized and standard infrastructure for messaging in the country, and also with the aim of addressing the pressures in the wake of intensification of international sanctions, especially possible restriction on access to global connecting networks such as SWIFT,” Seyed Mahmoud Ahmadi, secretary general of Iran’s Central Bank said in a circular to the country’s banks.
In March 2012, SWIFT, the Brussels-based body that handles global banking transactions, cut Iranian banks from its system, making it almost impossible for money to flow in and out of Iran via official channels. SWIFT said it was forced by European Union sanctions to discontinue service to the Iranian banks.
SWIFT is a secure private network used by nearly every bank around the world to send payment messages that lead to the transfer of money across international borders.
In January 2012, the EU froze assets belonging to the Central Bank of Iran, through which most of the country's oil sales are cleared, as well as of eight other entities, and banned all trade in gold and other precious metals with the bank and other public bodies. Six months later, an EU ban on the import, purchase and transport of Iranian crude oil came into force.
In October 2012, the EU banned any transactions with Iranian banks and financial institutions, as well as the import, purchase and transportation of natural gas from Iran, the construction of oil tankers for Iran, and the flagging and classification of Iranian tankers and cargo vessels.
In recent years the western governments have imposed new sanctions on Iran on the pretext that the country may be trying to develop a nuclear weapon capacity under the guise of its civilain nuclear program, a allegation strongly dismissed by Iran which states that it needs nuclear energy for generating electricity and other purely peaceful purposes.