Russia central bank will not name banks linked to SWIFT alternative

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An exterior view shows Russia's Central Bank headquarters in Moscow, Russia March 29, 2021. A sign reads: "Bank of Russia". REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

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April 19 (Reuters) - Russia's central bank said on Tuesday it would no longer publish the names of banks connected to Moscow's alternative to the SWIFT payments network, as Russia grapples with sanctions.

Several Russian banks have been banned from SWIFT after Moscow began what it calls "a special military operation" in Ukraine on Feb. 24 as part of wider western penalties designed to isolate Russia from global markets over the invasion.

Russian banks affected could move to a messaging system developed by Russia's central bank, the System for Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS). Last year, the central bank was reported as saying domestic interbank traffic could easily be transferred to this platform.

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"Under the current conditions we have made the decision not to reveal the list of organisations connected to SPFS. Still, this list is available for users of the system," the central bank told Reuters in an emailed comment.

A majority of Russian banks, along with 52 foreign organisations from 12 countries, had access to SPFS, Russian Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said on Monday.

In March, the central bank said around 400 users were connected to SPFC, which Moscow set up several years ago amid concerns that it could lose access to SWIFT after the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Russia called earlier this month on the other BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) emerging economies to extend the use of national currencies and integrate payment systems. read more

The central bank has scaled down its public activity, including suspending publication of external debt data and a breakdown of gold and foreign exchange reserves.

Earlier in April, it also temporarily stopped publishing data on foreign trade on a monthly basis in the first such suspension since 1997.

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Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Alexander Smith

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