Russian oligarchs’ human rights at risk if seized assets sold to rebuild Ukraine, Swiss president says

Ignazio Cassis says plans by UK, EU and Canada to confiscate assets of Russians targeted by Western sanctions would set dangerous precedent

BRUSSELS CORRESPONDENT 5 July 2022 •

Ukraine has indicated it could need as much as $750 billion to rebuild the country destroyed by Russian bombs

Ukraine has indicated it could need as much as $750 billion to rebuild the country destroyed by Russian bombsCREDIT: Reuters

Oligarchs’ human rights will be breached if their capital is sold to rebuild Ukraine, the Swiss president said, as he poured cold water over Kyiv’s plan to seize $500 billion in frozen assets. 

President Ignazio Cassis said moves to confiscate Russians assets would set a dangerous precedent as he closed a two-day summit of international leaders to raise money for Ukraine’s post-war recovery.

“The right of ownership, the right of property is a fundamental right, a human right,” Mr Cassis told the conference in Lugano on Tuesday.

“You have to ensure the citizens are protected against the power of the state. This is what we call liberal democracies,” he added.

The UK, EU and Canada have all outlined plans to seize the assets of Russians targeted by Western sanctions in order to provide Kyiv with a much-needed cash injection.

Ukraine has said it could need as much as $750 billion to rebuild the country destroyed by Russian bombs, including 120,000 homes, 2,000 educational facilities and 799 medical centres that have been destroyed since Russia invaded on Feb 24.

Swiss President Ignazio Cassis (right) with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss during the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano
Swiss President Ignazio Cassis (right) with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss during the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano CREDIT: Shutterstock

Throughout history Switzerland has remained neutral, but took the unprecedented decision to align itself with sanctions imposed by the EU on Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine.

As the world’s largest offshore finance centre, Switzerland has maintained some of the tightest banking secrecy rules, with a reluctance to seize assets for political purposes.

Mr Cassis has sought to uphold this reputation by resisting calls from the country’s social democrats to introduce legislation allowing for the seizure of Russian assets.

In March, the Swiss Bankers Association estimated there was £129 billion to £172 billion being held in accounts for Russian citizens.

But the ramifications for seizing Russian assets would be seen as massive, according to legal experts.

Individual property rights are enshrined in Article 26 of the Swiss Constitution, and “any limitation of fundamental rights must be justified by public interest”.

If Bern were instead to opt to follow an international treaty on the confiscation of Russian assets, it would have to ensure the move would “not fundamentally” breach the principles of Swiss neutrality.

The Association of Swiss Private Banks said it would be “surprising if property and procedural rights were no longer respected in Switzerland”.

5 comments

  1. Switzerland just made itself an accessory to genocide. Only to be expected from a grasping, greedy, criminal country that always helps nazis, terrorists and international criminals.
    Switzerland consists mainly of German, French and Italian people, so we should not be surprised.
    Utter bastards.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I understand their concern but I would bet most of the oligarchies in Moskovia are connected to Vladolf. On the other hand if they can prove no connection and its an honest business, that would be something else.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Off topic: two of Boris’s top cabinet ministers; Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid have resigned. This is a hard blow for Boris. At the moment it’s not known why.
    Rishi is the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Sajid is Secretary of State for Health and an ex-Home Secretary.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I don’t understand why Boris is having such problems but it wasn’t long ago Trump had similar problems. Sometimes if you shake things up the establishment get nervous. Unlike a lot of people I respect elected leaders of foreign countries because they represent the will of the people.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Who gives a damned about human rights of creatures from a human rights abusing entity? Seriously? No, it’s not a reason why this Swiss shit nugget is playing the human rights card. It’s PROFITS. Nothing less, nothing more. The Swiss are the filthy Ferengis of this world.

    Liked by 2 people

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