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Swiss freeze more than $6 billion worth of sanctioned Russian assets

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People hold banners and Ukrainian flags during an anti-war protest, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in front of the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, February 26, 2022. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

ZURICH (Reuters) – The Swiss government has frozen around 5.75 billion Swiss francs ($6.17 billion) worth of Russian assets in Switzerland covered by sanctions, and the number is likely to rise, a government official said on Thursday.

“Today, for the first time, I can give you an indication of the amount of frozen funds. To date, SECO has been notified of funds and assets totalling around 5.750 billion Swiss francs,” said Erwin Hollinger, a senior official at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) agency overseeing sanctions.

That included a number of properties in cantons which served as tourism resorts, he told a news conference in Bern.

SECO had until now declined to estimate the extent of assets frozen or potentially subject to sanctions since the neutral country began adopting European Union sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

“The cited number of far over 5 billion francs relates to a snapshot in time,” Bollinger noted. “With further reports coming in and potential additions to EU sanctions lists, which Switzerland would also assume, it is likely this number will rise further.”

Pressure has increased on Switzerland — a popular destination for Moscow’s elite and a holding place for Russian wealth — to more quickly identify and freeze assets of hundreds of sanctioned Russians.

Its banks hold up to $213 billion of Russian wealth, Switzerland’s bank lobby estimates.

Bollinger cautioned against relating total Russian wealth in the country to the amount subject to sanctions.

“Not every sanctioned individual or entity has assets in Switzerland,” he said. “And, on the other hand, not every Russian who holds assets in Switzerland is simultaneously on the sanctions lists.”

($1 = 0.9320 Swiss francs)

Swiss freeze more than $6 billion worth of sanctioned Russian assets

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