Freezing of Russian assets reaches 5.75 billion francs in Switzerland

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The value of the sanctioned assets should increase as further measures are taken. © Keystone / Ti-press / Alessandro Crinari

Swiss authorities have so far frozen some 5.75 billion Swiss francs ($6.2 billion) of the Russian oligarch’s sanctioned assets, and the total is expected to rise as the European Union announces new measures.

This content was published on March 24, 2022 – 12:45

swissinfo.ch/mga

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco), the government department responsible for managing the sanctions, announced the figure on Thursday.

The total assets blocked include properties in tourist regions, but the Seco declined to give details of those affected.

Erwin Bollinger, head of Seco’s bilateral economic relations department, said the assets had been frozen but not confiscated as there was no legal basis to take away ownership rights.

This effectively means that money and property cannot be transferred, sold or used as collateral for loans.

Seco works with the cantons to identify Russian properties in land registers. The department also searches for sanctioned assets, such as art objects or gold bars, stored in Swiss free ports.

The Swiss Bankers Association has estimated that Swiss vaults hold up to 200 billion francs in Russian assetsExternal link but did not specify how much of that amount is subject to penalties.

At first, Switzerland refused to freeze assets when Russia invaded Ukraine, saying it would undermine its neutrality. But the government was forced to change its mindExternal link as a result of concerted pressure both in Switzerland and abroad.

Switzerland currently applies sanctions to 874 natural persons and 62 legal persons. This number is likely to increase with the EU planning new sanctions.

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