Swiss Banks Unfreeze $3.4 Billion in Sanctioned Russian Assets
18:02 GMT 13.05.2022 (Updated: 18:13 GMT 09.01.2023)
Switzerland was among the western countries which decided to voluntarily seize funds belonging to Russian companies, business leaders and even the Central Bank under the pretext of sanctions over Russian special military operation in Ukraine.
Bern has released nearly $3.4 billion in Russian assets over the last month, which had been frozen under new sanctions, a recent report from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) indicates.
After seizing a number of additional Russian accounts worth $2.2 billion, tallies show a net reduction of $1.17 billion in total frozen assets compared to April 7, demonstrating that close to $3.4 billion has been released over the same time period. Swiss banks are currently holding $6.33 of locked down Russian assets.
Referring to these unblocked assets, SECO senior official Erwin Bollinger explained that some of the frozen accounts were liberated due to lack of evidence showing they belonged to a sanctioned entity.
"We can't freeze funds if we do not have sufficient grounds […] The amount of assets frozen is not a measure of how effectively sanctions are being implemented", Bollinger said.
Switzerland faced pressure from other western countries that slapped sanctions on Russia following the start of the special military operation in Ukraine on 24 February. The country is considered one of the main holders of Russian business assets.
Bern has strongly denied allegations that it allowed its secrecy laws to protect Russian money allegedly belonging to President Vladimir Putin’s allies. In a telephone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis recently demanded that the US correct "this misleading impression immediately".
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