Ukrainian Ambassador: Swiss could look harder for oligarch assets

Artem Rybchenko, Ukrainian ambassador to Switzerland. Keystone/cyril Zingaro

While he is grateful for the Swiss organisation of the upcoming Ukraine Recovery Conference, Switzerland could do more to chase down Russian oligarchs, Artem Rybchenko says.

This content was published on June 19, 2022 - 16:05

Rybchenko, the Ukrainian ambassador in Bern, told the Blue NewsExternal link website that it would be “helpful” if Switzerland were to “amend its laws” to be more capable of sniffing out the assets of sanctioned oligarchs stashed in Swiss banks. “We know that many accounts are registered under different names – without it being clear where the money comes from,” the ambassador said, repeating a demand made two months ago.

Switzerland has taken over all EU sanctions packages against Russia since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24; the latest being the European embargo on Russian crude oil imports, approved by the Swiss government on June 10.

But despite hefty discussions about how eagerly the country is enforcing the sanctions, Switzerland has so far refrained from adapting procedures coordinated by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. On June 9, parliament rejected a left-wing motion to set up a special taskforce to coordinate the sanctions efforts. So far, CHF6.3 billion ($6.5 billion) has been frozen.

Eyes on Lugano

Rybchenko was, however, grateful to the Swiss authorities for their co-organisation of the upcoming Ukraine Recovery ConferenceExternal link in Lugano on July 4-5 – the first major international conference on Ukraine since the outbreak of the war.

The conference will discuss the re-building of Ukrainian infrastructure and is set to be attended by over 1,000 guests, including high-level figures like European Commission boss Ursula von der Leyen. However, as the SonntagsBlick reports today, the Swiss foreign ministry sees the chances of a physical visit by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky as “rather slim”.

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