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Weary of Sanctions, Venezuela Mulls Using Russian Payment System

  • Exclusion from SWIFT platform could further cripple Maduro
  • Russia says banks from Belarus, Abkhazia have joined system
A pedestrian passes in front of a mural depicting the late Hugo Chavez, Simon Bolivar, and Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's president, in the Palo Verde neighborhood of Caracas.
A pedestrian passes in front of a mural depicting the late Hugo Chavez, Simon Bolivar, and Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's president, in the Palo Verde neighborhood of Caracas.Photographer: Carlos Becerra/Bloomberg

Venezuela’s government is studying the possibility of switching to a Russian-operated international payments messaging system as an alternative to SWIFT as part of preparations for an uptick in U.S. sanctions, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Venezuelan central bank officials have requested information from their Russian counterparts to have an alternative system in place if sanctions bar them from SWIFT, a move that could further cripple the nation’s fragile finances, one of the people said. Even if Venezuela decided to move its transactions onto the alternative platform, approval from Russia’s central bank is required, the other person said.