Belgians will probe U.S. bank privacy row

June 28, 2006 at 10:18 AM
Sign up for our Security Newsletter

BRUSSELS, June 28 (UPI) -- The Belgian government says it will look into U.S. data mining of private financial records held by SWIFT -- a Brussels-based global banking entity.

"We need to ask what are the legal frontiers in this case and whether it is right that a U.S. civil servant could look at private transactions without the approval of a Belgian judge," government spokesman Didier Seus said Monday.

By contrast, the European Union -- which has probed allegations about secret CIA prisons and other activities undertaken in Europe by the United States as part of its self-declared war on terrorism -- is steering clear of the SWIFT controversy.

"At first sight there is no European legislation covering this type of transfer and it is therefore a matter of national law," said Friso Roscam Abbing, a spokesman for Justice and Home Affairs Commission Franco Frattini.

U.S. officials acknowledged last week that the Treasury Department had been accessing the records held by the Society for Worldwide Inter-bank Financial Telecommunications, known by its acronym SWIFT, since September 2001. The records form a database of essentially every international financial transaction, and reports say that U.S. investigators were trawling it with sophisticated software, looking for evidence of financial activity by terrorist groups.

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Trending Stories
United Launch Alliance launches NROL-45 payload
Former military doctors call for end to live tissue training
Russia, Belarus agree on sale of Sukhoi Su-30SM fighters
Airbus selects Thales and Helisim for H160 flight simulator
U.S. Air Force defers 45 F-35s from budget plan