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UKRAINE

Switzerland ready to freeze Yanukovych funds

Switzerland said on Thursday it was prepared to freeze any funds Ukraine's ousted president Viktor Yanukovych might have in Swiss banks.

Switzerland ready to freeze Yanukovych funds
File photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP

The Swiss government has decided "in principle to freeze any possible funds Mr Yanukovych may have in Switzerland", foreign ministry spokesman Pierre-Alain Eltschinger told AFP in an email.

The full decision, which would be published on Friday, obliged Swiss banks to show increased vigilance when it comes to Ukrainian funds, he added.

Asked whether Yanukovych or his entourage would be blocked from receiving visas to the country if they were to make such an application, the foreign ministry spokesman would only say that "Switzerland is following very closely the situation in Ukraine."

It is unclear whether Yanukovych himself has funds in the wealthy Alpine nation, but his son Alexander opened a branch of his Management Assets Company (MAKO) in Geneva in late 2011.

The 40-year-old dentist and businessman has amassed a personal fortune of around half a billion dollars (some 365 million euros) in the past three years alone, according to a report in the Swiss weekly L'Hebdo.

His Ukrainian conglomerate reportedly controls nearly half of that country's coal production, and around a third of its electricity production and distribution.

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UKRAINE

Shareholder group urges Switzerland’s Nestle to halt all Russia business

Nestle must halt all its activities in Russia, the Actares shareholder organisation said Monday, ramping up the pressure after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky singled out the Swiss food giant.

Shareholder group urges Switzerland's Nestle to halt all Russia business

Nestle has suspended all its imports and exports to Russia, including Nespresso coffee pods and S.Pellegrino bottled water, but has maintained deliveries of vital products such as baby food.

In a speech live-streamed to a rally outside the Swiss federal parliament in Bern on Saturday, Zelensky urged Swiss companies to cease doing business in Russia, picking out Nestle, and condemned firms that carried on regardless despite the siege of Mariupol.

“Actares — shareholding for a more responsible economy — urges Nestle to consider President Zelensky’s call in the Federal Square to stop doing business with Russia!”, the group, one of Switzerland’s top shareholders’ associations, said in a statement.

Nestle insisted Sunday that it was not making any profits in Russia, winding down many of the firm’s activities in the country following the Kremlin-ordered invasion of neighbouring Ukraine on February 24.

READ MORE: Ukraine’s Zelensky blasts Swiss banks in address to Bern rally

“We have stopped all our investments there and have ceased all our advertising activities,” a spokeswoman told AFP. “We do not make any profit from our remaining operations in Russia.

“We are doing everything possible in Ukraine and neighbouring countries to help alleviate this humanitarian catastrophe.”

Several US multinationals have withdrawn from Russia, like the fast food chain McDonald’s and the beverage giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Nestle has been the subject of a call for a boycott circulating on social media networks.

On Monday, Zelensky called on European leaders to cease all trade with Russia in an effort to pressure Moscow to halt its nearly month-long military assault on Ukraine.

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