“It’s a very effective sanctions tool,” says Bissell Cook, co-founder of the interbank network SWIFT, who has lived in Prague for three decades. “What I don’t like is that it only leads to the disconnection of some Russian banks. I am for a complete separation, even if it hurts.”
In the Czech Republic, Bessel Kok is known as the former director of the privatized Telekom, a chess player and a man who raises funds for various cultural institutions.
Lidovky.cz: Can you tell us something about how the SWIFT platform was built? Was it something like a startup today? Were you a programmer?
I was never a programmer. In the early 1970s, a growing number of European banks felt competitive pressures from American banks, which had their own network. For example, Citibank had offices in Brussels, Amsterdam and elsewhere and used its communications networks to weaken local European competitors. So in the early seventies, more than 50 years ago, it was decided that European banks should create their own communication network. It started with some banks in Belgium such as Kredietbank, British Midland Bank, which no longer exists today, French Nationale de Paris and others.
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