Swiss extend Russian sanctions list

Switzerland is reluctant to take steps it fears could damage closely nurtured trade ties with Moscow Keystone

This content was published on December 16, 2014 - 14:33 and agencies

Switzerland has added 13 people and five organisations to a list designed to stop the country being used as a conduit to circumvent Western sanctions against Russia. 

Switzerland, which is not a member of the European Union but is linked by bilateral agreements governing trade and other measures, decided in March not to join the sanctions that the EU has imposed over the Ukraine crisis but has been keen to avoid undermining them. 

The names added onto a list published on the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) website on Tuesday include Sergey Kozyakov, who was election commission chief in Ukraine’s Luhansk region, and the self-styled Donetsk Republic organisation. 

Those named on the list are prohibited from entering into new business relationships with financial intermediaries in Switzerland. This is aimed at preventing assets held outside the EU from being transferred to Switzerland. 

Existing Swiss measures include requiring approval for five Russian banks to issue long-term financial instruments here. 

Switzerland, a global commodity trading and private banking hub, is a popular destination for Russia’s wealthy elite and is reluctant to take steps it fears could compromise its cherished neutrality or damage closely nurtured trade ties with Moscow. 

Around 75% of Russian crude oil exports are traded through Geneva, according to the Swiss government, and Swiss banks held nearly CHF13.8 billion ($15.2 billion) of Russian assets in Swiss banks in 2012, according to the latest Swiss National Bank statistics. 

The changes to the sanction list will come into effect as of 1800 Swiss time on Tuesday.

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