Swiss newspaper Tribune de Genève reported on Wednesday that the oligarch, who has Swiss citizenship, complained he would soon be unable to buy his groceries at Swiss supermarket Migros due to the sanctions.
The social welfare office in the canton of Geneva told the paper the application was rejected as oligarch had other assets, including real estate. Geneva is one of the world’s most expensive property markets.
Social assistance is only made available to those who cannot afford to cover costs, rather than those who are experiencing liquidity issues as a result of international sanctions.
The man is one of more than 1,000 individuals subject to sanctions in Switzerland due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said sanctioned assets or blocked accounts can be unfrozen in exceptional situations due to cases of hardship, although no such unfreezing has taken place in this case.
“Each case is examined individually”, Seco told Swiss news outlet Watson.
The sanctions, which were controversially imposed by neutral Switzerland in the days after the Russian invasion, do not only impact the mega rich in Switzerland.
Ordinary employees of Russian companies hit by sanctions have also had their wages frozen.
Natalyia, an administrative assistant, told Watson she and many others had been indirectly impacted by the sanctions.
“We are Swiss citizens and ordinary employees with ordinary wages, we have families and financial obligations,” Natalyia, who did not want to give her real name, told Watson.
Companies hit by sanctions can similarly apply for hardship exemptions, Seco said, which are subject to approval in exceptional cases.