ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – Switzerland has so far frozen some 7.5 billion Swiss francs ($8.03 billion) in funds and assets under sanctions against Russians to punish Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, government official Erwin Bollinger said on Thursday.
The assets included money in frozen bank accounts and properties in fours Swiss cantons, Bollinger told a news conference in Bern. He did not name the cantons.
In a sharp deviation from the country’s traditional neutrality, Switzerland on Feb.28 adopted European Union sanctions against Russians involved in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. It is adopting other E.U. sanctions as well.
‘Currently around 7.5 billion Swiss francs are blocked on the basis of the sanctions against Russia’, said Bollinger, a senior official at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) agency overseeing sanctions.
Thursday’s report marked an increase from an update two weeks ago, when Bollinger said Switzerland has frozen around 5.75 billion francs of Russian assets.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensiy last month heaped pressure on Switzerland – a popular destiantion for Moscow’s elite and a holding place for Russian wealth – to more quickly identify and freeze assets of hundreds of sanctioned Russians.
Bollinger said Swiss officials met Ukrainian government representatives on Wednesday to discuss implementation of the sanctions, but he gave no details.
He referred to an estimate by Swiss Bankers Association of 150 – 200 billion francs worth of overall Russian wealth in Swiss banks.
‘Not every Russian person is sanctioned’, Bollinger added. ‘At present, there are just under 900 peoples’.
‘As you can imagine it is often very complex to determine the effective control (of assets). Funds are thus in part blocked provisionally by banks. The amounts reported are only a snapshot’, he added.
‘The tendency is to block more than would be necessary’.