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UBS blacklists Urgence Palestine

January 9, 2011

The Swiss bank UBS has banned money transfers to Collectifs Urgence Palestine (CUP), an anti-Israel organization that funds projects in Gaza.  UBS says the decision has to do with risk, not politics.

That may be technically true.  UBS doesn’t spell out exactly what the “risk” is, but clearly that bank has made an assessment that money transferred to its customer, CUP, is at risk of funding Hamas.  That presents a level of legal and financial exposure that UBS will no longer accept.

(Now if UBS would also cease its Noriba Bank sharia financing operations, they could really be applauded.)

Here’s an excerpt from a SwissInfo article from Jan. 5 (h/t Elder of Ziyon for briefly mentioning the story):

UBS upholds ban on pro-Palestinian transfers

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…

In 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the Union of Good, which includes a Swiss charity known as the Association de Secours Palestiniens (ASP), as a terrorist entity.

Notably, the Swiss CUP is made up of individual members and smaller organizations including an organization calling itself the Association Suisse-Palestine.  It may just be a coincidence that that organization has the initials ASP, the same initials as the Swiss Union of Good affiliate.

Or like some other Islamic charities have done when they get designated by the U.S., they simply changed their name.  The Jerusalem Fund for Human Services, a Canadian Union of Good member, changed its name to IRFAN after being outed.  The Islamic American Relief Agency was formerly known as the Islamic African Relief Agency, which was designated by the Treasury Department in 2004.

If the two ASPs are the same, that would help explain UBS’s concern about doing business with CUP.

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