When Hanan Abunasser tried to transfer money from his personal account to his sister’s, Swedbank officials told him that “Palestine is closed” because they did not want to risk financing “terrorism” or enabling “money laundering”.
This means that Palestinians living in Sweden are no longer allowed to use the bank’s services to send money to their family members and relatives stuck in the war-torn Gaza Strip.
– I told them that I wanted to send money to my sister in Gaza, and they didn’t ask me anything, they just said that the bank has decided not to send money to Palestine, not only to Gaza, but to all of Palestine, because they don’t want to risk it going to terrorism or money laundering. I just wanted to send some money, 3,000 SEK, what do you mean ‘terrorism’?! It doesn’t feel right, Hanan told the left-wing newspaper ETC.
It was about 1,000 Israeli shekels, or about 3,000 SEK – about a month’s salary in Gaza. Hanan says the bank staff made it clear that it was not possible to transfer money to Palestine.
When the newspaper spoke to Hannes Mård, press officer at Swedbank, he would not go into detail about Hanan’s case, but confirmed that customers could no longer make payments to Palestine themselves – if they wanted to do so, they would have to visit one of the bank’s branches, where further checks would be carried out before the transaction could possibly be approved.
– If we consider the risks to be unmanageable, we can close transfers to a country or restrict the ability of customers to make them themselves. For Palestine, it is not possible for individual customers to make payments themselves, but they must visit an office where we conduct an enhanced review. This can lead to us refusing the transaction, says Mård.
While competitors Nordea and SEB do not currently require those wishing to transfer money to Palestine to physically enter the branch for verification, they have nonetheless tightened requirements for transactions to the region, claiming that they “need to understand the origin of the money and the purpose of the transaction”.
In case of ambiguity or doubt, they can stop the transfer. Handelsbanken and several other smaller banks do not currently make private transfers to Palestine.
Hanan Abunasser was a candidate for the Left Party in Solna municipality in 2022.