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Swiss imports from Russia rose in January

gold bars with hand
The gold was probably stored in UK warehouses since before the embargo. Keystone / Martin Ruetschi

Swiss imports from Russia rose by almost a fifth of a percent in January compared with the previous month, largely due to purchases of Russian gold transported via the UK.

This is despite a ban since August 3, 2022, on the direct and indirect import of gold from Russia, after Switzerland joined the European Union embargo on Russian gold exports.

“The gold imports fulfil the requirements in force at the time of import,” the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (FOCBS) said on Tuesday. The decisive factor, it told the AWP news agency, was that the gold in question was not exported from Russia after August 4, 2022. “Moreover, the gold was imported into Switzerland from the United Kingdom and not directly from Russia.”

The NGO Swissaid told the news agency that “this gold has obviously been stored in vaults in London or in free warehouses for a long time and is therefore not affected by the sanctions”. It is probably gold of Russian origin that was exported before the sanctions or even before the war, the NGO’s media office said when asked.

“Our concern is more about indirect imports of Russian gold, especially those that go through the United Arab Emirates,” it continued. The gold is melted down and processed there before being sent to various places around the world, including Switzerland, where it has a new origin, it said. According to Swissaid, it is “impossible to really trace the origin of the gold”.

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