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12 May, 2023 14:22

Switzerland reveals value of frozen Russian state assets

Bern will report on Moscow’s reserves every three months, the government has said  
Switzerland reveals value of frozen Russian state assets

Assets and reserves belonging to the Bank of Russia worth 7.4 billion Swiss francs ($8.3 billion) are currently held in Switzerland, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) reported on Wednesday.

The government said the sum represents all central bank reserves and assets withheld in the country to date, adding that “the bank’s assets have been immobilized.”

The “sum of immobilized assets should be distinguished” from the 7.5 billion francs ($8.4 billion) worth of frozen assets which belong to sanctioned Russian individuals and companies, SECO explained.

Swiss officials highlighted in a statement that it “will remain mandatory to report reserves and assets of the Russian central bank, and reporting will take place regularly, on a quarterly basis.”

Switzerland, once a favored destination for the assets of wealthy Russians, abandoned its neutral status last year and enforced international sanctions following the conflict in Ukraine.

The country’s government noted that the debate as to whether frozen Russian central bank assets should be confiscated is ongoing across the EU, adding that “Switzerland is following these discussions closely.” Kiev has repeatedly demanded that its Western allies seize Russian money and use it to rebuild Ukraine. A decision has to be made, however.

Swiss officials have previously stated that banks have “no legal right” to use Russian money frozen in the country under sanctions “for their own purposes,” saying that such a move would risk breaking Swiss law.

Switzerland has been facing increasing US and EU pressure to release frozen funds for the reconstruction of Ukraine.

Earlier this year, former head of Deutsche Bank Josef Ackermann warned that such a step by Switzerland in particular would jeopardize investor confidence in the Swiss banking system and result in the country losing its status as a global financial center.

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