The CIA and other intelligence agencies have long been interested in the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecomminications (sic), or SWIFT. The Society, headquartered in Belgium, is the primary system used for international, and some national, bank transfers. Whoever controls SWIFT has access to the full details of millions of yearly bank transfers, including, banks, time, names, amount and account numbers. Since 2002 the US government entered into a secret agreement to acquire SWIFT records.
Data handed over each year [to the CIA] by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift, includes the details of an estimated 4.6 million British banking transactions.
This document (see below) presents a new classified draft Council of the European Union decision on the “processing and transfer of Financial Messaging Data” from the EU to the US, as part of the “Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme”. The 24 paged draft, dated 10th of November 2009, if agreed to, will have substantial impact on the European SWIFT banking system and the privacy of European financial data.
Draft available on Wikileaks.org