Swiss banks hold as much as $214 billion in Russian money, the top Swiss banking association said.The disclosure to Reuters, by the Swiss Bankers Association, is unusual given Swiss banking secrecy.Switzerland recently departed from its historically neutral status to sanction Russia over Ukraine.Sign up for our weekday newsletter, packed with original analysis, news, and trends — delivered right to your inbox.Loading Something is loading.
Oligarchs and other wealthy Russians have stashed as much as $214 billion in secretive Swiss bank accounts, the industry’s top trade group has revealed.
On Thursday, the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) told Reuters that the country’s banks held between 150 billion and 200 billion Swiss francs ($160 billion to $214 billion) of Russian money.
The SBA’s revelation is unusual because Switzerland, the world’s largest offshore wealth center, is famous for bank secrecy.However, it comes after Switzerland departed from its historically neutral status to sanction Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Mattea Meyer, co-president of Switzerland’s Social Democrats, has called for a crackdown on Russian oligarch cash deposited in Switzerland.”Part belongs to oligarchs loyal to the Kremlin,” she told Reuters, adding that Switzerland must “turn off the money taps.”
The SBA told Reuters the amount of Russian wealth held in Switzerland was small compared with the total assets in the country.
“The share of assets held for Russian clients likely accounts for a share in the low single-digit percentage range of the total cross-border assets deposited with Swiss banks,” the association said.
Insider could not reach the SBA outside regular business hours.
UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank by assets, has around $634 million in direct exposure to Russia — about 3% of its total exposure to emerging markets – according to its 2021 annual report , released last Monday.
Credit Suisse, the country’s second-largest bank, revealed in its annual report that it had a gross credit exposure to Russia of about 1.6 billion Swiss francs ($1.68 billion) at the end of 2021.
Sweeping sanctions have hit Russia and some of its wealthiest people since the country invaded Ukraine, and Swiss banks appear to be busy keeping up with them.
“We are working with our clients, including our Russian clients, to see how to manage their business and de-risk their own situation,” UBS CEO Ralph Hamers told the Morgan Stanley European Financials Conference on Wednesday, per Reuters.
He added: “I can’t give a further update on the number of sanctioned clients, because it literally changes every day.”
Switzerland has often been attacked by the US, UK, and other governments for enabling criminals and other questionable individuals to hide their wealth, although its banks started sharing some information with overseas tax authorities from 2018.
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