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Why is Switzerland importing Russian gold?

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected] • 22 Jun, 2022 Updated Wed 22 Jun 2022 12:05 CEST
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Despite sanctions currently in place, Switzerland imported several tonnes of gold from Russia in May. Has Switzerland broken any rules?

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More than three tonnes of gold, worth around $200 million, were shipped from Russia to Switzerland in May, nearly two months after the beginning of war in Ukraine, according to media reports based on data from the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security.

While questions may arise why Switzerland, which adopted EU sanctions against Russia on February 28th, is still trading with Moscow, this move is not breaking any rules.

That’s because sanctions are not targetting commercial gold shipments, even though "many banks, shippers and refiners stopped dealing with Russian metal after the conflict in Ukraine began", according to a report in Reuters.

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In fact, Switzerland is an important hub in the international gold trade, with its four major refineries producing two-thirds of the world's gold. Interestingly, all four have denied importing from Russia after the invasion.

Meanwhile, the news of the imports has sparked criticism.

Marc Ummel, head of raw materials at Swissaid humanitarian aid organization, fears that proceeds from the gold will be used to finance the war.

The gold imports caused much debate on social media and internet forums.

One critical social media user pointed to the link between the latest shipment and Switzerland’s wartime practices: “The first things that come to mind when you think of Switzerland are dodgy bankers and Nazi gold”.

“How very Switzerland of them", another critic wrote.

READ MORE: Sanctions on Russia: Is Switzerland still a neutral nation?

 

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Helena Bachmann in Geneva 2022/06/22 12:05

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