Switzerland freezes Russian assets worth billions but Ukraine asks for more
Authorities in Switzerland have successfully frozen 5,75 billion Swiss francs' worth of Russian assets since sanctions began on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. However, a top advisor to the Ukrainian president has said that the country should do more to find and freeze Russian funds.
5,75 billion Swiss francs' worth of assets frozen
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) announced that so far 5,75 billion Swiss francs' worth of assets have been frozen after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, originating from Russian oligarchs sanctioned by Switzerland and the EU.
The assets include houses and apartments in Switzerland that were bought by Russian oligarchs. Swiss banks have also started to comb through their financial records, to ensure that no assets slip through the cracks. Credit Suisse announced that it would be asking the government to allow 20 of its workers to work on Sundays, nightshifts, overtime and holidays in order to process all the data.
Over 800 Russian individuals sanctioned by Switzerland
Head of Seco’s Bilateral Economic Relations Division, Erwin Bollinger, was quick to stress that the assets have been frozen, not taken. In response to calls to seize Russian assets permanently, he clarified that there was no legal way to do so.
Seco said that it was working with Swiss cantons to identify Russian housing, art and gold bullion - all of which are now subject to the asset freeze. So far, Switzerland has sanctioned 874 individuals and 62 international companies, a number which is likely to increase as more sanctions are announced.
Ukraine asks for more from Switzerland in freezing Russian assets
However, many within the Ukrainian government are frustrated that Switzerland is yet to do more to track down and freeze Russian funds. Speaking to Sonntagsblick, a key advisor to the Ukrainian President, Alexander Rodnyansky, said that it was “vital” that Switzerland put more international pressure on Russia.
“We all know there is a huge amount of money [belonging to] the Russian elite sitting in Swiss banks," Rodnyansky claimed. He said that the current effort to root out assets is not enough and that authorities must be more proactive with businesses in trying to freeze Russian money.
Rodnyansky noted that Switzerland could make a large impact when it comes to imposing sanctions on the wealthiest Russians. According to the Swiss Bankers Association, Russians hold around 200 billion Swiss francs worth of assets in Switzerland, but many international media sites have put the figure much higher.