US ambassador praises Swiss efforts to freeze Russian money

Scott Miller said the US respected Switzerland’s role in the sanctions Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

The US ambassador to Switzerland has praised the “immense progress” made by Switzerland in the search for Russian funds in Swiss banks.

This content was published on May 19, 2022 - 16:15

The United States is very pleased with the efforts Switzerland has made so far to find the funds of Russians sanctioned after the Russian attack on Ukraine, Scott Miller said in an interviewExternal link with the newspaper Le Temps published on Wednesday.

“We respect Switzerland’s role in the sanctions,” he said. “It is, after all, a sanctions package of a size and scope that, frankly, the world has never seen before.”

Switzerland had blocked Russian funds of CHF6.3 billion ($6.5 billion) by May 12, according to Erwin Bollinger, head of the Bilateral Economic Relations Division at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). At the beginning of April this amount had stood at CHF7.5 billion, but CHF3.4 billion, which had been frozen too quickly, had been returned. Another CHF2.2 billion were found between these two dates.

‘Lack of zeal’

Earlier in May, Bill Browder, an expert of the Helsinki Committee of the US Congress and the US government, had accused SwitzerlandExternal link of showing a lack of zeal in the hunt for Russian assets. He called on the US to rethink the framework for its cooperation with Bern.

Miller expressed reassurance about this in the Le Temps interview. “The Helsinki Commission is an independent commission that has no constitutional powers and is not a government agency.” The people who spoke there do not represent the official position of the government of US President Joe Biden, he said.

In an interviewExternal link with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung at the beginning of April, Miller called on Swiss banks to search for Russian oligarch money more actively. Banks that did not cooperate would have to expect negative consequences, he said.

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