Swiss eye confiscation of Ukraine assets frozen after 2014 revolution

The Swiss government decided Wednesday to launch exceptional proceedings aimed at confiscating assets linked to Ukraine’s former pro-Russian president, frozen in Switzerland following the 2014 Orange Revolution.
The proceedings concern assets of Yuriy Ivanyushchenko — a close associate of Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovych — and his family, valued at more than 100 million Swiss francs ($104 million, 97 million euros), the government said in a statement.
Switzerland’s Federal Administrative Court “will be asked to determine whether the conditions for confiscation are met,” the statement said, adding that if that is the case, the assets will be confiscated and “returned to Ukraine”.
Swiss authorities regularly freeze suspicious foreign assets, but only opt for full confiscation in exceptional situations, and only “after the judicial system in the foreign state has attempted to confiscate the assets, but has been unable to do so”, Bern explained.
In this case, the government said it had ordered the freezing of all assets connected with Yanukovych a few days after he was ousted from power in the 2014 revolution.
Kyiv had quickly launched criminal proceedings to confiscate the frozen assets, but despite cooperation with Bern, “Ukrainian authorities have encountered certain difficulties in their efforts to confiscate these assets deposited in Switzerland,” Wednesday’s statement explained.
“To date, they have not been able to issue judgements ordering their confiscation,” it said, stressing that “with the outbreak of war in Ukraine, these difficulties were severely compounded.”
In light of this development, Bern said it “considers that the launching of confiscation proceedings in Switzerland is now both possible and appropriate.”
These proceedings are not linked to the sanctions imposed against Russia following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, it stressed.
Those sanctions, which also include the freezing of assets of certain people, are based on Switzerland’s Embargo Act, and are “intended to exert political pressure on a state ot comply with international law,” the government explained. — Agence France-Presse