Customers who pay taxes in Russia have reportedly been told their accounts may be closed
Banks in Switzerland are monitoring transfers from their Russian customers to determine whether they pay taxes in Russia, RBK reported Thursday, citing banking and legal industry sources. According to the report, a number of banks warned customers who did so that their accounts could be closed.
“About ten people have applied to our law firm, who have so far received unofficial calls from bank employees warning that if they do not stop owning companies located in Russia and paying taxes, the bank should close their accounts,Roman Kudinov, managing partner of Swiss law firm LEOLEX, told the outlet. He added that there has been no official action yet and notifications have been few so far.
“Our office considers these actions illegal and plans to appeal as soon as our clients receive formal written notices.said Kudinov.
Another Swiss lawyer told RBK that his accounts had previously been blocked due to clients paid from the Russian budget, but did not specify which banks were involved. Credit Suisse declined to comment on the report at RBK’s request. Other Swiss banks did not respond to inquiries.
Kudinov said that the banks explain this decision by the fact that the taxes paid by their customers are used to finance the military operation in Ukraine. The lawyer says he believes the banks are being pressured into action by Swiss authorities, who have come under pressure from international partners to step up enforcement of sanctions against Russia, including calling on Swiss banks stop serving Russian customers and freeze more Russian assets.
According to recent calculations by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), around 7.5 billion Swiss francs ($8.3 billion) of Russian assets have been frozen in Switzerland since the EU imposed sanctions in Moscow for the military operation in Ukraine. US Ambassador to Switzerland Scott Miller said that was not enough given the amount of Russian assets held in Swiss banks, which he said is between 150 billion and 200 billion Swiss francs.
However, SECO Director Helene Budliger Artieda said earlier this week that freezing more assets would require proof that the funds are linked to sanctioned entities or individuals. She also reiterated that the Swiss government did not plan to confiscate the frozen assets as it would violate Swiss law, and would not pressure the country’s financial institutions to stop serving Russian customers.
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