Thomas Borer, a former US ambassador warns against Switzerland underestimating the current criticism from the United States on its economic relations with Russia, reports SRF.
Last week, the US Helsinki Commission harshly criticised Switzerland and demanded that three Swiss people – including former federal prosecutor Michael Lauber – be put on a sanctions list in connection with a Russian tax affair, known as the Magnitsky case. Sergei Magnitsky uncovered a tax scam implicating Russian tax officials. In 2008, he was put in a Russian prison, where he later died. Some of the money ended up in Swiss bank accounts, but the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office discontinued its investigation into the affair in 2021. Because of this, the Helsinki Commission is demanding that the then Federal Public Prosecutor Michael Lauber be sanctioned.
The latest criticism from the USA is part of a series of attempts to put pressure on Switzerland. In addition, Switzerland has been accused of insufficiently implementing sanctions against Russian oligarchs and of helping Russia by banning the re-export of war material to Ukraine.
Borer recommends Switzerland’s Federal Council do two key things: join the G7 task force for tracking down Russian oligarch funds – something that the USA has been demanding for a long time, but which Switzerland has so far rejected, and step up communications. Switzerland has to explain to the Americans via all channels that it is a model country in the field of money laundering and is blocking Russian oligarch funds.
Swiss officials have reacted vigorously to recent US accusations. On Friday, Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) responded to US criticisms of its judiciary, describing them as unfounded, reported RTS. A spokesperson said the sum of Russian assets blocked in Switzerland (CHF 7.5 billion) was high by international standards. In addition, it said that in June last year the EU recognised Switzerland as an official partner nation in the application of sanctions. According to FDFA, claims that Switzerland does less than other countries and shelters the funds of sanctioned individuals are unfounded.
SRF article (in German)