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Switzerland freezes Russian assets worth $8.8 billion

Switzerland freezes Russian assets worth $8.8 billion Switzerland freezes Russian assets worth $8.8 billion (Getty Images)

Switzerland has frozen the financial assets of Russians amounting to approximately 7.7 billion Swiss francs (8.81 billion dollars). The funds were frozen as part of sanctions aimed at punishing Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, according to Reuters.

This figure, according to preliminary estimates, is slightly higher than the 7.5 billion francs that, according to the Swiss government, were blocked last year after Bern adopted European Union sanctions.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the agency overseeing sanctions, says the 7.7 billion francs figure is only its latest estimate and is subject to change.

It is difficult to provide an exact figure because new individuals may be added or excluded from the sanctions list, as legal proceedings are ongoing to freeze or unlock further assets. A more accurate figure is expected by the end of the second quarter of 2024 when Swiss banks will report to the government.

The increase in the volume of frozen assets is linked to including 300 individuals and 100 companies and organizations in the sanctions list over the last 12 months. The list also includes potential income from monetary deposits, bonds, stocks, as well as real estate and luxury cars.

Bern has also blocked currency assets amounting to 7.4 billion francs belonging to the Russian central bank.

However, the frozen assets represent only a small part of the total wealth of Russians in Switzerland, as according to the Swiss Bankers Association's estimates, the country's banks hold 150 billion francs.

Confiscation of Russian assets

Ukraine, together with its partners, is working on a mechanism to transfer frozen Russian assets to Kyiv as compensation for war-related damages. For this purpose, a register of damages has been created, which is expected to be in work next year.

Bloomberg previously reported that the EU was exploring a procedure to confiscate 200 billion euros in assets. The European Commission is also developing its proposals.

Belgium will create a special fund for Ukraine in the amount of 1.7 billion euros. It will be filled with taxes from frozen Russian assets in Belgium.

Recently, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal stated that Ukraine needed to use the frozen Russian assets held by Western partners for its reconstruction.