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Switzerland, the paradise of Russian oligarchs

Switzerland, the paradise of Russian oligarchs

The Wall Street Journal reported that since the start of European Union sanctions against the Russian oligarchy, Switzerland has become a popular hunting ground for billionaires from the country of Vladimir Putin, particularly in the Zug canton.

Switzerland is home to both the companies founded and their homes by Russia’s richest men, to the headquarters of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 natural gas pipelines and the energy trading division of Gazprom BGSC.

But most of the links with Russia are concentrated in the canton of Zug, which was renamed “Little Moscow” by Swiss newspapers, while a tour of the oligarch is organized even for tourists.

However, it is still difficult to identify the Russian property from the list of people sanctioned by the government, especially because of the names written in Cyrillic, as explained to Heinz Tanler, the canton financial director.

Of the approximately 30,000 registered companies, only one was officially recognized as owned by a sanctioned individual.

Mr. Tanler also fears that the sanctions have dealt a blow to his canton’s reputation as a safe place for foreign investment.

While Switzerland has been committed to imposing sanctions alongside the EU since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, little action has been taken against the Russian oligarchy. The State Secretariat for Economics said the country has frozen nearly $6.8 billion in Russian financial assets along with 15 properties.

Nearly 80% of Russia’s primary products are also traded in Switzerland, through Zug or Geneva. Swiss banks also manage about $150 billion for Russian clients, according to the country’s Federation of Banks.

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Remember that 32 rulers close to President Putin own real estate, businesses or bank accounts in Switzerland, according to the Public Eye group.