On 29 June 2022, the Swiss Federal Council imposed further sanctions against Russia, in line with its announcement from 10 June (see blogpost here). With this latest revision of the Ordinance on Measures connected with the Situation in Ukraine (the “Ordinance“), Switzerland has adopted the EU’s latest package of sanctions (see blogpost here). The new measures entered into force on 29 June 2022 at 18.00 CET.
The list of designated individuals and entities targeted by restrictive measures was already updated on 10 June 2022 to align with that of the EU, with such updates including military personnel held responsible for the atrocities committed in Bucha, individuals active in the fields of politics and disinformation/propaganda, and certain oligarchs and their family members, including Aleksandra Melnichenko. Additionally, three Russian and one Belarus bank were added to the list of banks excluded from SWIFT and the list of goods banned for export that could help to strengthen Russia in military and technological terms or to develop its defence and security sector, were also extended. The new sanctions imposed on 29 June 2022 cover, among others, the following:
Embargo on crude oil and certain petroleum products
From now on, the purchase, import, transit and transport of crude oil and refined petroleum products listed in Annex 24 originating or exported from Russia into Switzerland are prohibited. This ban will come into force progressively and, after a series of transitional periods, take full effect by the beginning of 2023. It is accompanied by a ban on the provision of related services of any kind.
Exceptions apply to crude oil and refined petroleum products:
- transported by sea, if these products are only in transit through Russia and are not Russian property;
- from Russia or originating in Russia that are lawfully imported into an EU Member State.
In addition, the provision of technical assistance, brokering services and financial services as well as the granting of financing in connection with the transport of listed crude oil and petroleum products from Russia or originating in Russia to states outside Switzerland and the EU is prohibited.
MEDIA RELATED RESTRICTIONS
Despite its decision on 25 March 2022 (see blogpost here), Switzerland now also adopted the prohibition for operators to advertise products or services in any content produced or broadcast by Russian media listed in Annex 25, including Russia Today and Sputnik.
Prohibitions concerning consulting services
The new measures, known as so-called “services ban”, include a prohibition on the provision of accounting, auditing, bookkeeping or tax consulting services, business and management consulting or public relations services to the Government of Russia or to entities established in Russia.
The prohibition does not apply to services strictly necessary for the termination by 31 July 2022 of contracts restricted by this prohibition concluded before 30 June 2022. Additionally, the provision is not applicable to services:
- that are necessary for the exercise of the right of defence in judicial proceedings and the right to an effective legal remedy.
- intended for the exclusive use of legal persons, entities or bodies established in Russia that are owned by, or solely or jointly controlled by, a legal person, entity or body incorporated under the law of Switzerland or an EEA Member State.
Moreover, SECO may authorise the provision of services that are necessary for:
- humanitarian purposes; or
- civil society activities that promote democracy, human rights or the rule of law in Russia.
Clarification on the prohibitions concerning trusts
The provisions concerning trusts have been amended so that they do not apply to operations strictly necessary for the termination by 31 July 2022 (instead of 29 May 2022) of contracts which are not compliant with this provision concluded before 28 April 2022.
Moreover, SECO may now grant authorizations for services that are necessary for the operation of trusts relating to administration of occupational pension schemes, insurance policies or employee share scheme, charities, amateur sports clubs, and funds for minors or vulnerable adults.
Additionally, the prohibition on acting as a trustee, nominal shareholder, director, secretary or in any similar capacity for a trust or similar legal form or to enable any other person to do so (‘Arrangement Prohibition’) has been repealed and only takes effect from 1 August 2022.
From 1 August 2022, derogations in relation to the Arrangement Prohibition may be granted by SECO in order to permit the continuation of these services for:
- winding down until 1 October 2022 of contracts concluded before 28 April 2022, provided the operations were initiated before 30 May 2022; or
- other reasons, provided that the service providers do not directly or indirectly accept from, or make available to, persons connected with Russia, any funds or economic resources, or otherwise provide such persons with any benefit from assets placed in a trust.
An exception has been added to the provisions on asset freezes of designated parties and the prohibition on transferring funds or economic resources to designated parties set out in Art. 15 of the Ordinance, stating that the prohibition on transferring funds to such designated parties do not apply where the transfer of funds or the making available of funds or economic resources is necessary:
- for the provision of telecommunication services by Swiss or EU telecommunication operators and for the provision of associated facilities and services necessary for the operation, maintenance and security of such electronic communication services in (i) Russia; (ii) the Ukraine; (iii) Switzerland; (iv) an EEA Member State; (v) between Russia and Switzerland or an EEA Member State; and (vi) between Ukraine and Switzerland or an EEA Member State;
- and for data center services in the Switzerland or an EEA Member State.
Prohibition on the provision of services related to crypto-wallets, crypto-accounts or custody of crypto assets
SECO may, after consultation with the competent bodies of the Federal Foreign Affairs and Finance Departments, grant exemptions from the prohibitions for deposits or the provision of services in connection with crypto-wallets, crypto accounts or the custody of crypto-based assets that are required to pay fees or service charges for holding or maintenance of frozen assets.
Restrictions on transactions with certain state-owned enterprises
The prohibition on transactions with state-owned enterprises has been supplemented with an exception stating that the prohibition does not apply to transactions relating to the provision of telecommunication or data center services, or services and equipment necessary for the operation, maintenance and security of telecommunication services, including the provision of firewalls and of call center services, to a bank, company or organisation listed in Annex 15.
Additionally, the prohibition does not apply to:
- the reception of payments due by the banks and entities caught by the prohibition which are made pursuant to contracts performed before 15 May 2022;
- transactions, including sales, which are strictly necessary for the wind-down, by 1 October 2022, of a joint venture or similar legal arrangement concluded before 26 March 2022 involving a bank or entity caught by the prohibition.
Finally, it is important to note that the EU ban concerning the award of public contracts to Russian nationals and organizations or entities established in Russia has still not been included in the revised Ordinance. The Federal Council has commissioned a report on this matter with the competent authorities on 27 April 2022 (see blogpost here). On 29 June 2022, the Federal Council took note of the report and instructed the corresponding amendments to the Ordinance to be submitted by end of August 2022.