A camera operator working for CNBC on Tuesday was ejected from a financial conference in Brussels before a speech on cybersecurity by the CEO of the group that runs the electronic financial messaging program that knits together the global financial system.
The incident occurred at the 14th annual European Financial Services Conference at the ING auditorium in Brussels, at which hundreds of senior bankers and financial policymakers got together to discuss key issues in global financial markets.
Gottfried Leibbrandt is the CEO of Swift, which is the global consortium that operates an electronic messaging system that authorizes billions of dollars a day in financial transfers around the world. Swift has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of the theft of $81 million earlier this year from the New York Federal Reserve account of the central bank of Bangladesh. That theft, and other cyber incidents revealed subsequently, has prompted financial experts around the world to focus on the cybersecurity of the world's financial system.
CNBC was permitted to bring a camera to the conference by event organizers, and Swift had earlier sent a news release advertising the CEO's upcoming speech on cybersecurity.
But before Leibbrandt's speech, CNBC's camera operator was told to leave the event.
A spokesman for Swift later apologized and attributed the ejection of the cameraman to a miscommunication. He dismissed a suggestion that the ejection shows an extreme level of anxiety within Swift about the cybersecurity issue.
"It does no such thing," the spokesman wrote in an email to CNBC.
According to text of the speech released by Swift, Leibbrandt announced a five-part plan to tighten cybersecurity of the financial system, including improving information sharing among banks, hardening security requirements for bank customer software, encouraging banks to use payment pattern controls and introducing certification requirements for third-party providers.
Leibbrandt said, according to the transcript, that cyberrisk "has been the main thing to keep me awake at night," since he took his current job. He also said cyberbreaches are a "big deal" and get to the heart of banking because "banks that are compromised like this can be put out of business."