February 4, 2023

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The pressure of the United States and Poland on Switzerland: “confiscation of Russian assets in support of Ukraine.” But can it be done?

L’Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began a little less than eleven months ago, has already shaken the certainty of European countries in many ways. In a way or another. He was the first to erase one of the great post-war taboos in just a few weeks Germany, When (Social Democratic) Chancellor Olaf Scholz paved the way for rearming his army to face the Russian threat. An unprecedented decision, and would have been politically impossible, since the fall of the Nazi regime. Then it was my turn Sweden And Finland, for decades puzzled by the idea of ​​joining NATO and who, in the face of the demonstration of Russian aggressiveness (and also the proof of unity presented by NATO), advanced on the “conversion”, already wondering at the summer formal membership. Now to think seriously about one of the great “foundational” taboos it is Swiss. Not so much on a political level as an economic one. The question arises in Bern – as reported Corriere della Sera – It’s about possibility Confiscation of Russian assets Deposited or frozen in its banks to support the Ukrainian resistance and counter-attacks, and for its reconstruction. Moral duty or legal contempt? A legitimate political choice or a denial of any basis for a liberal order? This issue is still a major issue in Switzerland, and it could also affect other democratic countries in the future.

Accounts in your pocket in Moscow

It is well known that Swiss banks have acted and continue to act as treasury for the assets and assets of millionaires of all nationalities. For Bern, this is indeed one of the real things assets from his economic model. A significant part of these goods is of Russian origin. According to the country’s Association of Banks, Russian property wealth held in deposits of Swiss institutions amounts to an amount of between Between 150 and 200 billion francs (about the same amount in euros). Confiscating this money would be tantamount to giving up every principle of liberty and the right to property. But the issue is less clear about the assets already frozen in those deposits because they are owned by oligarchs or other figures in the Russian establishment affected by the sanctions. In this case we are talking about assets with an estimated value of 7.5 billion, in addition to about fifteen properties. These assets are now subject to sanctions. Will it be possible to go a step further and expropriate them, to get useful funds to invest in support of Ukraine? There are those who are convinced that yes, which makes the urgency of the geopolitical challenge prevail. The Polish Prime Minister clearly requested it, outside the Swiss borders Matthews Moravicki. On the other hand, the Germans seem less convinced. “Then we can abolish the certainty of law directly,” explained the chairman of the Berlin Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Franz Groeter, rejecting it without appeal, which seems in line with the approach of the German government.I’m Olaf Schultz. But the pressure is strong, if true that in December the US Senate approved a measure that paves the way for forfeitures of this kind. In addition to the frozen funds of the oligarch, there is also another “treasure” held in Switzerland (and possibly elsewhere) that can be used, if there is the political and legal will. This is money kept abroad Central Bank of Russia, also under the cover of Western sanctions. There are no official estimates here, but it is thought there may be one Tens of billions in Swiss private banks. The debate is open in Bern. at the moment. In the coming weeks, it could also reach other democracies bordering Switzerland …

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