Swiss bank UBS has defended itself for blocking transactions to benefit pro-Palestinian groups based in Switzerland.
The bank has stopped such payments in the past but the issue was rekindled on Wednesday when the bank said it was obligated to respect “legal provisions” regarding embargoes and sanctions.
The Geneva-based Le Matin newspaper reported that about ten Swiss people or groups sympathetic to the Palestinian cause – namely Urgence Palestine – had money transfers blocked by UBS.
The decision “is not linked to political motives but to an assessment of risks associated with such transactions”, the bank said in a statement.
“UBS must respect the hundreds of legal provisions” in terms of “international decisions concerning embargoes and sanctions”, the bank added.
Transactions bound for other “recognised organisations”, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Caritas and the United Nations have been carried out even after rules tightened in 2008, UBS noted.
The bank has also limited transactions related to business with Iran, North Korea, Myanmar, Sudan and Syria since 2005.
In 2008 families of victims killed by bombings and rocket attacks in Israel sued UBS for $500 million (SFr483 million) for allegedly financing terrorism through money transfers. UBS has called the lawsuit “groundless”.
swissinfo.ch and agencies