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Swiss move to confiscate assets of ally of ex-Ukrainian leader

Maidan Square in Kiev during the 2014 protest movement that led to the ousting of Viktor Yanukovich. Keystone / Efrem Lukatsky

The Swiss government is looking to seize over CHF100 million ($104 million) in assets from an associate of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich.

This content was published on May 25, 2022 - 18:05
Reuters/Keystone-SDA/dos

The “administrative confiscation proceedings” concern assets of Yuriy Ivanyushchenko and his family, which were frozen in Switzerland after Ukraine’s 2014 revolution, the government said on WednesdayExternal link.

The move is unrelated to sanctions imposed on Russia over the past months. However, the proceedings will “provide support” to Ukraine, which has faced even more difficulties in confiscating these assets since the outbreak of war, the Swiss executive said.

Days after Yanukovich was ousted in February 2014, the Swiss government ordered the freezing of Swiss-based assets of the deposed president and his entourage – including Ivanyushchenko, a former member of parliament and a “close associate” of the former leader.

‘Appropriate’

Under the Foreign Illicit Assets ActExternal link, which applies in exceptional situations, such frozen assets can be confiscated, the Swiss government said – but it falls on the judicial system of the foreign state in question to attempt to justify such a move first.

To date, Ukrainian authorities have been unable to come to a confiscation judgement, despite legal cooperation with Swiss authorities. With the outbreak of war, “these difficulties were severely compounded”, the government said. The launching of proceedings in Switzerland was now “possible and appropriate”.

The finance ministry will now ask the Federal Administrative Court to look into whether the assets are of “illicit origin”, and if so, to approve their confiscation so that they can be returned to Ukraine.

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