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Switzerland launches criminal investigation into violation of sanctions against Russia

Switzerland launches criminal investigation into violation of sanctions against Russia Illustrative photo (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

The Swiss attorney general has launched the first criminal investigation into alleged violations of sanctions against Russia by an unnamed company. This was the first sign that Bern is ready to prosecute groups of people for doing business with Moscow, according to the Financial Times.

The company may have violated Swiss rules by using its subsidiaries abroad, the attorney general's office said, declining to name the group or the sector in which it operates.

The action against the Swiss-based group marks a turning point for sanctions enforcement in Switzerland.

The Attorney General took up the case after the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco), which is the government department responsible for sanctions enforcement, asked him to open a criminal investigation.

The Swiss sanctions, imposed after Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, mirror measures taken by other Western countries.

While Seco is responsible for monitoring sanctions violations, the attorney general can initiate criminal proceedings if the significance of the offense justifies it, Linda von Burg, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, said in a statement to the Financial Times.

Seco also asked the prosecutor to open a criminal case against a second company for similar reasons, but the attorney general rejected the request, deciding that it was not a case of particular importance.

Von Burg also said that the federal prosecutor's office took control of one of these cases and refused to take over the second one.

Violation of sanctions against Russia in Switzerland

Earlier, Switzerland refused to participate along with the G7 countries in the international task force to trace the assets of Russian oligarchs.

Later it was reported that about 130 suspicious cases of circumvention of sanctions against Russia were identified in Switzerland. Criminal proceedings were initiated in 29 of these cases.

Switzerland has also increased the number of people monitoring the implementation of sanctions against Russia.