Switzerland not to confiscate frozen Russian assets over fear of “undermining constitution”

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Switzerland will not confiscate frozen Russian assets – s special task force has state that this would “undermine the countryʼs Constitution and the prevailing legal order,” according to the Federal Council of Switzerland.

After international discussions and several parliamentary requests, the Federal Council asked the administration to examine the legal situation concerning assets currently frozen in Switzerland due to sanctions against Russia. It decided that the confiscation of private Russian assets contradicts the countryʼs Constitution.

” the expropriation of private assets of lawful origin without compensation is not permissible under Swiss law. The confiscation of frozen private assets is inconsistent with the Federal Constitution and the prevailing legal order and violates Switzerland’s international commitments. Other countries have similar constitutional rights and guarantees.” the statement reads.

At the same time, the Swiss government emphasized that they will continue to support Ukraine, regardless of the discussions regarding frozen Russian assets.

Switzerland will review the following options:

  • the possibility of confiscating Russia’s central bank currency reserves and other state assets
  • introducing tougher criminal penalties for violating sanctions is also being examined.

Switzerlandʼs neutrality is one of the main principles of the countryʼs foreign policy, which states that Switzerland has no right to participate in armed or political conflicts between other states. However, after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Switzerland joined EU sanctions.

According to Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, Switzerland has already frozen 7.5 billion francs ($8.2 billion) in Russian assets.

Under current Swiss law, assets cannot be confiscated. A referendum is needed to change the law. The NZZ newspaper wrote that the banks were very critical of this idea  as it could violate property rights and undermine Switzerlandʼs status as a financial center. Bankers consider this a “death sentence” for Swiss banks.

Switzerland close to ending ban on arms exports to Ukraine – Reuters

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