Switzerland has frozen approximately 7.7 billion Swiss francs ($8.81 billion) of financial assets belonging to Russians as part of sanctions against Russia.
The Swiss government announced this figure, Reuters reported.
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), which oversees the sanctions, said that the figure of 7.7 billion francs is only the latest estimate and is subject to change. Russian individuals and allies close to Putin’s regime are sanctioned for Moscow’s war against Ukraine.
It is difficult to provide the exact number of assets frozen by Switzerland due to the addition or removal of new individuals from the sanctions list, as well as ongoing court cases involving the freezing or unblocking of other assets.
Swiss banks are expected to report a more precise figure to the government by the end of the second quarter of 2024. The government has not commented on whose assets were frozen.
The increase in Bern’s frozen assets is said to be due to an increase of 300 people and 100 Russian companies and organizations added to the sanctions list over the past 12 months.
In addition, Switzerland blocked the movement of 7.4 billion francs in foreign currency assets owned by the Russian central bank.
The frozen assets are only a fraction of the total wealth of Russians in Switzerland, which, according to the Swiss Bankers’ Association, has CHF 150 billion in banks.
During his visit to Ukraine last month, Swiss President Alain Berset pledged more support for Kyiv and discussed the possibility of using the proceeds of frozen Russian assets to help rebuild the country, which has been suffering from the Russian military invasion and Putin’s war.
The European Commission is working on a proposal to pool some of the proceeds from frozen Russian state assets to help Ukraine and its post-war reconstruction. Switzerland is participating in the discussions but has not yet decided whether it will support the proposal.
Earlier, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Swiss National Council rejected a proposal for the country to join the G7 working group on finding assets of sanctioned Russians.
In early April, Switzerland received a letter from the ambassadors of the Group of Seven countries criticizing the “loopholes” that, according to diplomats, allow Russian assets to avoid sanctions in Switzerland and pose a “reputational risk” to the country.