UBS denies political block on pro-Palestinian groups

5th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Swiss bank UBS denied on Wednesday that it had blocked payments to some Swiss Palestinian support groups for political reasons, claiming it had to respect "legal requirements" for sanctions.

The Swiss newspaper Le Matin reported that a dozen Swiss sympathisers of some Palestinian support groups had had their payments to those associations blocked by UBS.

The bank said its decision to "limit payments to Palestine" dated back to 2008.

"It is not linked to political motives but to an evaluation of the risks involved in such transactions," it added in a statement e-mailed to AFP.

As a global business, "UBS must respect hundreds of legal requirements. Notably linked to international decisions on sanctions and embargos," it added.

However, the bank said payments for "recognised organisations" such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, charity Caritas, or the United Nations, including their employees in the field, were still allowed.

UBS said it had also decided in 2005 to cut off business relations with clients in Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Myanmar, Sudan and Syria.

In 2008, US victims and relatives of victims of attacks in Israel launched a 500-million-dollar lawsuit against UBS in the United States, alleging the bank financed terrorism by doing business with Iran, according to their lawyer.

The summons noted that Iran and the groups it supported were subject to strict US government sanctions.

A UBS spokesman said at the time that the accusations were without foundation.

© 2011 AFP

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