Ticino takes Russian oligarch’s villa, understanding the legend of Mount Pilatus and more in our roundup of Swiss news from May 10 – 13.
Swiss banks cannot keep funds frozen without evidence
The current total of frozen Russian assets stands at 6.3 billion CHF (down from 7.5 billion CHF), announced Erwin Bollinger this week, the head of the Bilateral Economic Relations Division at Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). “The number of frozen assets is not an indicator for how effective sanctions are implemented,” Bollinger said, adding that the numbers “can fluctuate in both directions.” Swiss banks can provisionally freeze funds, but if banks do not have “sufficient grounds” that the funds are directly linked to a sanctioned individual the funds must be released, SECO says. More recently, an additional 2.2 billion CHF of funds have been frozen, but 3.4 billion CHF were also released. Read more.
Ticino authorities seize Russian oligarch’s villa
Swiss authorities this week seized Russian oligarch Andrei Klishas’s 10,700-square-foot lakeside villa in the canton of Ticino. Klishas, who built his fortune in nickel mining, has been banned from entering Switzerland and on a Swiss sanctions list since 2014 when he publicly spoke in favor of Russia’s occupation of Crimea. When Klishas joined Russian President Vladmir Putin’s list of pro-war supporters in March, Ticino authorities began legal proceedings to seize the sprawling estate. It is the 11th Russian property Switzerland has frozen since late February. Read more.
Revisiting Mt. Pilatus and the folklore there
Writing in The New York Times this week, novelist Maaza Mengiste revisits the site of a distressing childhood memory – Lucerne’s Mount Pilatus – to research the folklore surrounding the famous site and re-write her own history. “There is nothing tranquil about the history of Mount Pilatus. Even its former Latin name, Fractus Mons, ‘broken mountain,’ hints at violence and decay. Swiss lore tells of terrifying thunderstorms and churning lake waters, of phantoms screeching through the air,” Mengiste writes. Read more.