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Switzerland extends its list of sanctioned Russian individuals and companies and reinforces its sanctions against Belarus

Authored by our Global Sanctions Team

On March 16, 2022, Switzerland extended the asset freeze and entry/transit restrictions to more than 200 Russian individuals and companies. It also adopted new sanctions against Belarus and reinforced the existing ones. These measures entered into force at 12:00 p.m. CET on the same day.

 

Asset freeze and entry/transit restrictions of Russian individuals and companies

Switzerland has revised Annex 8 of the "Ordinance on measures in connection with the situation in Ukraine," which was first issued in 2014 and recently amended on February 28 and March 4, 2022. These revisions include:

  • The asset freeze and entry/transit restrictions of Russian individuals and companies that have been in place since February 28, 2022 have been extended to 197 individuals and nine companies. The list of Swiss sanctions is now identical to the one published by the EU Council on March 15, 2022.
  • All assets belonging to or under the control of individuals, companies and entities newly listed in Annex 8 of the Ordinance are frozen with immediate effect as of March 16, 2022, 12:00 p.m. CET. It also prohibits the provision, directly or indirectly, of assets or economic resources to those individuals, companies and entities.
  • Entities that hold or manage assets that should be frozen must declare them to the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (the "SECO").
  • Individuals targeted by the asset freeze are also banned from entry and transit in Switzerland (except for holders of a temporary or permanent residence permit in Switzerland or in a Member State of the European Union).

 

Switzerland revised measures against Belarus following new measures adopted by the EU

Switzerland has also revised extensively the "Ordinance on measures against Belarus," (first issued in 2020) in order to follow the new measures adopted by the EU on March 2 and 9, 2022. 

Asset freeze and entry/transit restrictions of Belarusian individuals and companies

  • The asset freeze and entry/transit restrictions of Belarusian individuals and companies that have been in place since 2020 have been extended to one entity (Dana Astra, a real estate developer and constructor in Belarus). 
  • All assets belonging to or under the control of Dana Astra are frozen with immediate effect as of March 16, 2022, 12:00 p.m. CET. It also prohibits the provision, directly or indirectly, of assets or economic resources to this entity.
  • Entities that hold or manage assets that should be frozen must declare them to the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (the "SECO").
  • Individuals targeted by the asset freeze are also banned from entry and transit in Switzerland (except for holders of a temporary or permanent residence permit in Switzerland or in a Member State of the European Union).

Trade restrictions related to Belarus

Restrictions on supplies of dual-use items and related services have been expanded to reflect those imposed on Russia, while those on trade in potash, mineral and tobacco products have also been tightened.

  • Dual-use, military and high-tech: Existing trade restrictions on supplies of dual-use items have been extended to a ban on export of all dual-use items, regardless of origin, to any person in Belarus or for use in Belarus. This ban also covers related financing or financial assistance, brokering services, technical assistance and other services relating to the manufacture, maintenance and use of such items. In line with EU Russia sanctions on these items, exemptions apply (subject to specific notification and authorization requirements) in certain cases, such as for intergovernmental cooperation, humanitarian purposes or personal use for travel to Belarus. Similarly, Switzerland has imposed an export ban on a wide range of goods and technology considered to contribute to the development of Belarus's military and technological enhancement, including related assistance/services. As under the Russian sanctions, the extensive restrictions cover items for the electronics sector (e.g., microprocessors, semiconductors), and information security, sensors, lasers, navigation/avionics, marine and aerospace/propulsion items. Similar exemptions and related notification and authorization requirements generally apply as for dual-use items.

  •  Tobacco: The list of items subject to supply restrictions has been expanded to now also include knives and cutting blades for use in machinery, and related brokering services, technical assistance, financing or financial assistance (including financial derivatives and (re-) insurance). Those restrictions do not apply to operations based on a contract concluded prior to August 11, 2021.
  • Mineral products: The existing import restrictions on "petroleum oils and petroleum products" and on "products based on potassium chloride (potash)" which do not apply to operations based on a contract dated prior to August 11, 2021 have been extended to other products such as wood, cement, steel and rubber products (with the list expanded to include oils and other coal tar distillation products), except for operations based on a contract dated prior to March 16, 2022 and performed until June 18, 2022.
  • Sale, delivery, transit and transport restrictions apply to a wide range of machinery, meaning when they are destined to Belarus of for a use in Belarus. Direct or indirect related technical assistance, brokering, financing or financial assistance (including financial derivatives and (re-)insurance) are also prohibited. Exemptions apply (subject to specific notification and authorization requirements) in certain cases, such as for intergovernmental cooperation, humanitarian purposes or personal use for travel to Belarus. The restrictions do not apply to operations based on a contract prior to March 16, 2022 and performed until June 18, 2022.

Financial restrictions related to Belarus

  • The conclusion, prolongation and renewal of insurance or re-insurance with the Belarus Government, its public bodies or individuals and legal persons acting on their behalf or at their direction are prohibited. Those restrictions do not apply to the mandatory insurance and liability insurance services when the risk is insured in Switzerland or in the EU and to the insurance services provided to diplomatic or consular representations in Switzerland or in the EU.
  • It is forbidden to provide public financing or financial assistance for trade with, or investment in, Belarus, except for prior binding financing commitments concluded before March 17, 2022, trade in food or for agricultural, medical or humanitarian purposes. Financing up to EUR 10 million per project is, however, still allowed to SMEs established in Switzerland.
  • The existing ban on the issuance of certain financial instruments (and related assistance) with a maturity greater than 90 days issued by the State of Belarus and its public bodies or by specific targeted banks and entities in Belarus or banks and entities outside of Switzerland controlled by those targeted banks and entities or acting on their behalf or at their direction remains. Some exceptions are provided. Likewise, it is forbidden to trade those financial instruments with a maturity greater than 90 days issued by the same specific targeted banks and entities after June 29, 2021.
  • The existing ban on the granting of certain loans (directly or indirectly) with maturity greater than 90 days to the State of Belarus and its public bodies or to specific targeted banks and entities in Belarus or banks and entities outside of Switzerland controlled by those targeted banks and entities, or acting on their behalf or under their instructions remains. Some exceptions are provided for loans serving to finance trade between Switzerland or the EU and third states. Withdrawals or disbursements made under a contract entered into before August 11, 2021 are no longer exempted. The SECO may exceptionally authorize loans aiming to support the Belarusian people (humanitarian and environmental assistance) and loans necessary to guarantee the liquidity prescribed by the law in favor of financial entities in Belarus which are held mainly by financial institutions having their seat in Switzerland or in the EU.
  • Swiss banks generally can no longer accept deposits of more than CHF 100,000 (in total) from Belarusian persons, entities or such that are residing in or established in Belarus, though limited exceptions—some subject to prior authorization—apply. Swiss banks must now, moreover, regularly report on all such Russian deposits exceeding EUR 100,000. The restriction does not apply to those holding a temporary or permanent residence permit in Switzerland or in a Member State of the European Union.
  • Central securities depositories may no longer provide services for transferable securities issued after April 12, 2022, to Belarusian persons. The restriction does not apply to those holding a temporary or permanent residence permit in Switzerland or in a Member State of the European Union.
  • The sale of transferable securities denominated in Swiss francs or in euros issued after April 12, 2022 or of units of collective investments offering an exposure to these values, to any Belarusian national, to any individual  residing in Belarus or any bank, company or entity established in Belarus is prohibited. The restriction does not apply to those holding a temporary or permanent residence permit in Switzerland or in a Member State of the European Union.
  • Transactions related to the management of the reserves as well as the assets of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus, including transactions with all banks, companies or entities acting on behalf of or at the direction of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus, are prohibited. The SECO may exceptionally authorize such transactions when they are strictly necessary to ensure the financial stability of Switzerland.
  • There is a prohibition on the sale, supply, transfer, or export of Swiss franc or euro-denominated banknotes (i) to Belarus or (ii) to any natural or legal person, entity or body in Belarus, including specifically the government and National Bank of the Republic of Belarus. Only very limited exceptions apply (i.e., personal use of individuals travelling to Belarus and for official purposes of diplomatic missions and international organizations in Belarus).
  • Switzerland has banned three Belarus banks from SWIFT, along with any Belarusian entities directly or indirectly majority owned by them, as of March 27, 2022. These are Belagroprombank, Bank Dabrabyt, and Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus.
  • The payment of a debt to Belarus, its government and public bodies, individuals and companies based in Belarus or listed in Annex 13 or individuals and companies acting on behalf or at the direction of those entities shall be prohibited where such claims are based on an agreement or transaction whose performance has been prevented or affected directly or indirectly by measures imposed under the Ordinance.

Flight restrictions

  • Belarusian planes are now prohibited from landing in and taking off from airport in Switzerland.
  • This prohibition also applies to aircrafts operated by these companies in the framework of code sharing or capacity reservation agreements. 
  • Emergency landings remain authorized. 
  • The Federal Office of Civil Aviation may exceptionally authorize such landings or take offs for humanitarian reasons or to safeguard Switzerland's interests.

 

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