The SWIFT, based in Belgium, announced Wednesday that it has stopped providing financial services to all North Korean banks under UN sanctions, as international tensions increase compared to To the increasingly aggressive military behavior of Pyongyang.
The financial messaging system has declared to stop providing services to North Korean banks after the Belgian authorities withdrew an authorization that had enabled SWIFT to serve the banks.
The withdrawal of the authorization came in response to the "current international" situation regarding North Korea and ongoing discussions in the UN Security Council, said the Society for Telecommunication Global Interbank Financial (SWIFT).
The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday condemned the recent launch of North Korean ballistic missiles and expressed concerns about the increasingly destabilizing behavior of the country and disregard for its 15 members.
"Therefore, SWIFT has suspended access to UN designated North Korean entities from the SWIFT financial messaging service," he said. SWIFT did not specify exactly when the services were suspended or how many banks were affected.
SWIFT's decision follows a UN group report released last week that revealed that North Korea has relied on continued access to the international banking system to circumvent sanctions.
The 27 February report of the UN Security Council Board of Administration indicated that SWIFT had continued to provide financial messaging services to seven North Korean banks, three of which are on the blacklist.
The three blacklist banks designated by the UN panel as being in the SWIFT network were Bank of East Land, Korea Daesong Bank and Korea Kwangson Banking Corp. The Bank of East Land was blacklisted in 2013 while the other two were blacklisted last year.
Banks could not be contacted immediately for comments.
"At the time of writing, the techniques of circumvention of the Democratic People 's Republic of Korea and inadequate compliance by Member States combine to significantly nullify the impact of resolutions.
SWIFT told the UN panel that it had received payments for services to North Korean banks with the authorization of Belgium, according to the UN report
Belgium informed the panel that under national and European legislation, the receipt of fees from a listed bank may be allowed subject to certain provisions of the Union And authorizations relating to amounts below EUR 15 000
On Wednesday, however, SWIFT said that Belgium had recently stopped providing these authorizations. The payment messaging system added that it had no authority to make sanction decisions.
"Any decision to lift or impose sanctions on individual countries or entities rests solely with the relevant governmental bodies and legislators," he said.
Some IT security companies have attributed several attacks on financial institutions via fraudulent SWIFT messages to a group called Lazarus, which was linked to a cyber attack on Sony's Hollywood studio in 2014.
The US government publicly blamed the Sony hack against North Korea. North Korea denied the involvement.