Europe needs access to SWIFT payments data to combat militants - France

European authorities need to be able to tap into data from the SWIFT bank payments network as part of a push to clamp down on the financing of militant groups, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said on Monday.

Sapin said that the SWIFT system had two computer servers, one in Europe and one in the United States, but that Europe currently relied on U.S. authorities to collect and analyse the vast amounts of data flowing through it to detect security issues.

"We Europeans don't have the capacity to exploit our own data. I don't think this can carry on this way," Sapin told a news conference. "Since we do not have the means to analyse the data located in Europe, we transfer all of this data to the Americans, who have the capacity to analyse it."

Efforts to curb financing of militant groups have intensified since the attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 by Islamic State-backed gunmen and bombers.

Belgian-based SWIFT, or Society for the Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, operates services transmitting letters of credit, payments and securities transactions among 9,700 banks in 209 countries.

SWIFT says on its website that it is subject to binding requests to provide the U.S. Treasury with data from its European server "for the purpose of the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of terrorism or terrorist financing".

(Reporting by Michel Rose; Writing by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Andrew Callus and David Stamp)

Last update: Tue, 08/12/2015 - 12:32
Author: 

More from Europe

Parliament backs Brexit timetable after May's concession on plan

British lawmakers backed Prime Minister Theresa May's timetable for Brexit negotiations by a large majority late...

Renzi quits as prime minister, leaving Italy in political quagmire

Italy was plunged into fresh political turmoil Wednesday, as Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned after complying...

NATO strongly supports Ukraine's integrity, says Croatian FM

NATO strongly supports Ukraine's territorial integrity and the European Union's sanctions against Russia will remain...

Three detained in France for connection to police killings

Three men have been detained in France for their suspected links to Larossi Abballa, the extremist who killed two...

Political veteran Doris Leuthard elected Swiss president for 2017

Centre-right politician Doris Leuthard will serve as Swiss president next year, the parliament decided Wednesday in...