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Sanctions update: Swiss sanctions against Russia

On 27 August, Switzerland extended sanctions against Russia. The purpose of the Ordinance is to ensure that the most recent sanctions imposed by the European Union cannot be circumvented via Swiss territory.

The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs' (SECO) press release of 27 August 2014 states:

"Bern, 27/08/2014 – In view of the situation in Ukraine, the Federal Council has today decided to take further measures to prevent the circumvention of international sanctions. It has amended the Ordinance of 2 April 2014 on measures to prevent circumvention of international sanctions in relation to the situation in Ukraine to include the sanctions imposed by the EU in July. The revised ordinance enters into force at 6 PM today."

The purpose of the Ordinance is to ensure that the most recent sanctions imposed by the European Union cannot be circumvented via Swiss territory (please see our most recent sanctions update http://www.hfw.com/EU-sanctions-Ukraine-Aug-2014).

As explained by SECO, there are five types of measures:

1. In the field of finance, the issuing of long term financial instruments by five Russian banks will be made subject to Swiss authorisation. Authority for the issuing of new instruments will only be granted where they are within the average financial engagement of the past three years, paralleling the EU's restrictive measures exemption. Secondary trading in financial instruments newly issued outside of Switzerland and the EU will be subject to a duty to notify. The five banks are:

  • Sberbank
  • VTB Bank
  • Gazprombank
  • Vnesheconombank
  • Rosselkhozbank

2. 11 names have been added to the existing list of natural persons and businesses with whom financial intermediaries are prohibited from entering into new business relationships and whose existing business relations are subject to a duty to notify:

  • Gromov Alexeyevich Alexey – first Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration
  • Tchigirina Oksana – spokesperson of the so called "government" of the so called "Lugansk People's Republic"
  • Litvinov Alexeyevich Boris – Vice-Chairman of the so-called "Supreme Council" of the so called "Donetsk People's Republic"
  • Abisov Vadimovich Sergey – Minister of Interior of the Republic of Crimea
  • Rotenberg Romanovich Arkady
  • Malofeev Valerich Konstantin – linked to Ukrainian separatists in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea
  • Kovalchuk Valentinovich Yurij – Chairman and largest shareholder of Bank Rossiya
  • Shamalov Terentievich Nikolay – the second largest shareholder of Bank Rossiya
  • Joint-Stock Company Concern Almaz-Antey
  • Dobrolet
  • Russian National Commercial Bank

3. Dual-use and military goods: application for an export license may be refused if goods are intended to be used exclusively or partially for military purposes, or if they are intended for a military end user. With regard to war material, the Federal Council decided that a ban on imports of such goods from Russia and Ukraine should apply.

4. A duty to notify for exports of certain goods used in the extraction of oil in deep sea, Arctic or shale gas projects in Russia.

5. A ban on and exports of certain key goods used in the extraction of oil and gas, as well as restrictions on investment in Crimea and Sevastopol.

The Federal Council stressed that Switzerland is not engaged in any state measures to promote additional Swiss exports to Russia.

Comment

To date, Switzerland has supported EU sanctions generally and demonstrated its commitment to their implementation and non-circumvention. However, Switzerland maintains steadfast in its neutrality, refusing to mirror EU sanctions and instead implementing its own sanctions reflecting Swiss Federal policy. It will therefore be interesting to gauge reaction to these proactive measures taken by the Swiss Federal Council.

For more information, please contact Sarah Hunt, Senior Associate, on +41 (0)22 322 4820 or sarah.hunt@hfw.com, or Daniel Martin, Partner, on +44 (0)20 7264 8189 or daniel.martin@hfw.com, or Anthony Woolich, Partner, on + 44 (0)20 7264 8033 or anthony.woolich@hfw.com, or your usual contact at HFW.

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