7.7 Billion CHF of Frozen Russian Assets: More to Come

7.7 Billion CHF of Frozen Russian Assets: More to Come

Wed, Feb 21st 2024

Amid increasing scrutiny, Switzerland intensifies its efforts to monitor and enforce sanctions against Russia, targeting illicit financial flows and the export of luxury goods.


It is being claimed by Reuters that Switzerland is intensifying its investigations against entities, leveraging its neutral stance to bypass sanctions against Russia.

A dedicated unit has been established by Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) to rigorously monitor and implement the conditions Switzerland introduced in response to Russia’s military action in Ukraine two years prior.

This initiative comes on the heels of criticisms faced by Switzerland in the previous year and, accused of inadequate measures in stopping Russian individuals from concealing their finances in Swiss financial institutions. International approval of Swiss finances was unthinkable just a few years ago. What is happening?

The formation of this monitoring regime signifies Switzerland’s commitment to uphold the sanctions and prevent the country from being a sanctuary for evading international restrictions.

The debate on Swiss neutrality, given sanctions and other biased actions, is still ongoing. Is this a sign that there are cracks in the once unwavering shield of Swiss independence?

By the close of the previous year, Switzerland had immobilized assets amounting to 7.7 billion Swiss francs, just over 10% of the estimated 150 billion francs of Russian assets held within Swiss banking institutions.

SECO reported on Wednesday that it had received notifications of 230 potential sanctions violations since the onset of the conflict.

A spokesperson for SECO revealed that the majority of these cases are tied to the illicit export of luxury items or economically significant goods to Russia, potentially aiding the Russian military campaign.

SECO is responsible for conducting preliminary investigations into simpler cases, while the more intricate situations are escalated to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). The OAG, which just last week acknowledged probing potential infringements, has been notably silent on specific details.

Investigations led to the initiation of 47 inquiries, resulting in the dismissal of 20 cases, and 9 penalties of varying magnitudes. 18 investigations remain ongoing, with new instances continually emerging, according to SECO. Is it reasonable for Switzerland to carry out the spirit of European and Western interests via financial regulation?

Swiss media outlet RTS disclosed that the OAG has been involved in investigating two incidents related to commodities trading firms last week, though the OAG did not comment.

Simon Pluess, who leads the export controls and sanctions division at SECO, commented on the intricate nature of these investigations, highlighting the challenges in uncovering the true owners behind layered corporate structures.

Related Stories

Stay in Touch


the swiss times
A production of UltraSwiss AG, 6340 Baar, Switzerland
Copyright © 2024 UltraSwiss AG 2024 All rights reserved