Switzerland, a paradise for Russian oligarchs

Switzerland, a paradise for Russian oligarchs

MISE À DAY

Since the start of European Union sanctions against Russian oligarchs, Switzerland has become a popular spot for hunting down billionaires from the country of Vladimir Putin, particularly in the canton of Zug, reported the “Wall Street Journal”. 

Switzerland is home to both companies founded by Russia's wealthiest men and their homes, as well as the headquarters of Nord Stream natural gas pipelines 1 and 2 as well as Gazprom PJSC energy trading department.

But most of the links with Russia are concentrated in the canton of Zug, renamed “little Moscow” by Swiss newspapers, while an oligarchs' tour is even organized for tourists.

For However, it remains difficult to identify Russian properties from the list of people sanctioned by the government, in particular because of the names in Cyrillic, explained to the newspaper Heinz Tännler, financial director of the canton.

Of the approximately 30,000 registered businesses, just one has been officially recognized as owned by a sanctioned individual.

Mr. Tännler also fears that the sanctions have dealt a blow to his canton's reputation as a safe place for foreign investment.

While Switzerland has made a commitment alongside the European Union to sanctions since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, little action has been taken against the Russian oligarchs. Nearly $6.8 billion in Russian financial assets have been frozen by the country along with 15 properties, the State Secretariat for the Economy said.

Nearly 80% of proceeds from bases of Russia are moreover exchanged in Switzerland, by Zug or Geneva. Around USD 150 billion are also managed by Swiss banks for Russian clients, according to the country's banking association.

Recall that 32 oligarchs close to President Putin own properties, businesses or bank accounts in Switzerland, according to the Public Eye group.