Switzerland is often criticized, especially by the US, which accuses it of not doing enough to trace the assets of Russian oligarchs
Wealthy Russians continued to transfer money to Switzerland even after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to an investigation by the Tamedia news group, citing as an example the case of a director of a public company actively supporting the war.
According to this investigation, the daughter and partner of Alexander Ponomarenko, the director of Mosvodokanal – this company supplies drinking water to the city of Moscow – “deposited millions in Switzerland, even after the start of the war.” The group's research team analyzed, in collaboration with a media consortium, Russian documents and data from a Zurich asset manager that ended up temporarily on the “dark web” following a ransomware attack.
< p>In June 2022, while the UN denounced in Geneva the atrocities against civilians in Mariupol, Ponomarenko's daughter “almost simultaneously” opened an account at Reyl Bank in Zurich, into which $9.5 million was deposited shortly afterwards. In November of the same year his partner had about 26 million dollars in Julius Baer and another 4.5 million in the Pictet bank.
In March 2022, Switzerland banned its banks from accepting deposits of more than 100,000 francs from Russian citizens. Many banks, including Julius Baer, had voluntarily announced that they were “separating” from their Russian clients.
However, these restrictions are easily circumvented, especially if one has a “golden passport”. Ponomarenko's partner and daughter have a passport or residence permit in an EU country, which allows them not to be considered “clients from Russia”, notes Tamedia.
Although Ponomarenko's name is not is on lists of people sanctioned by Ukraine's allies, “the daughter and partner of a director of a public company are politically exposed persons” and therefore “high-risk clients” for banks, noted Greta Fenner, the director of the Basel Institute for Governance, which helps governments trace ill-gotten wealth.
Switzerland is often criticized, particularly by the US, which accuses it of not doing enough to trace the assets of Russian oligarchs .