“Confiscation of Russian assets in support of Ukraine.” But can it be done?

“Confiscation of Russian assets in support of Ukraine.” But can it be done?

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began a little less than 11 months ago, has already shattered the certainty of European countries in many ways. One way or another. He was the first to erase one of the great taboos of the post-war period in Germany within a few weeks, when (Social Democratic) Chancellor Olaf Scholz paved the way for his army to be upgraded against the Russian threat. An unprecedented decision that would have been politically impossible since the fall of the Nazi regime. Then it was Sweden and Finland’s turn, which for decades had been puzzled by the idea of ​​joining NATO and, in the face of demonstrations of Russian aggressiveness (and also the proof of unity presented by NATO), pushed ahead with “conversion”. , is already wondering about the formal membership in the summer. Well, to think seriously about one of the big “fundamental” taboos, it’s Switzerland. Less on a political than on an economic level. The question arises in Bern – as Corriere della Sera reports – is about the possibility of seizing Russian assets, which are being deposited in its banks or frozen in order to support the Ukrainian resistance and counterattacks, as well as its reconstruction. Moral duty or legal disregard? A legitimate political choice or the denial of any basis for a liberal order? This topic is still a big issue in Switzerland and could also affect other democratic countries in the future.

Accounts in the pocket in Moscow

It is well known that Swiss banks have acted and continue to act as treasury for the assets and fortunes of millionaires of all nationalities. Indeed, for Bern, this is one of the real strengths of its economic model. A significant part of these goods is of Russian origin. According to the country’s banking association, Russian real estate assets held in custody by Swiss institutions range between CHF 150 billion and CHF 200 billion (about the same amount in euros). The confiscation of this money would be tantamount to giving up every principle of liberty and the right to property. However, the question is less clear with the assets already frozen in these repositories, as they are owned by oligarchs or other Russian establishment figures 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 one step further and expropriate them in order to get useful funds for investments in support of Ukraine? There are those who believe yes, which outweighs the urgency of the geopolitical challenge. The Polish Prime Minister has clearly demanded it, outside the Swiss borders Matthews Moravicki. The Germans, on the other hand, seem less convinced. “Then we can abolish legal certainty directly,” said the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Berlin House of Representatives, Franz Gröter, and rejected it without objection, which seems to be in the interest of the federal government. I’m Olaf Schultz. But the pressure is on if it is true that the US Senate approved a measure in December that paves the way for such forfeits. Besides the oligarch’s frozen funds, there is another “treasure” in Switzerland (and possibly elsewhere) that can be used if the political and legal will is there. This is money held abroad Central Bank of Russia, including under the guise of Western sanctions. There are no official estimates here, but it is assumed that Swiss private banks could be in the tens of billions. The debate has opened in Bern. at this moment. In the coming weeks, it could also reach other democracies bordering Switzerland…

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