Civic enthusiasm to join the G7 task force is waning. Parliament has postponed accession.
Shutting off money to Russian President Putin and those close to him is the aim of the sanctions against Russia. Switzerland has taken over the EU’s sanctions. However, she is not taking part in the G7 repo task force and if the Federal Council has its way, it should stay that way.
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Repo stands for russian elites, proxies and oligarchs. In addition to the European Union, the G7 countries and Australia are part of this Western alliance. The task force exchanges information and develops joint strategies to track down funds from Russian oligarchs.
Last week, bourgeois exponents campaigned for accession in the media. In doing so, you have followed the left, which has been calling for joining the task force for over a year. But now Parliament is hesitating: On Tuesday, the National Council discussed the matter Motion by Franziska Ryser, who is calling for membership, postponed. Instead of voting on it, the council sent the matter back to the relevant commission. The civil need to join the oligarch task force is apparently not that urgent after all.
Accession would make Seco’s work easier
Greta Fenner is managing director of the Basel Institute on Governance and specializes in combating financial crime: “The sanctioning authorities of the various countries coordinate their work in this task force.” She assumes that the purpose of this task force is to ensure that information flows more quickly between the various sanctioning authorities. A kind of platform for exchanging information and coordinating actions, says Martin Hilti from Transparency Switzerland. So it’s about being as coordinated as possible when looking for sanctioned funds.
Switzerland already works closely with many institutions, committees and states without joining them for this reason.
You have to know that the assets of sanctioned oligarchs are usually not in bank accounts, but are invested in complicated constructs. Shell companies, straw men and women in various countries are involved in order to conceal who is actually economically entitled. The countries must therefore work together. This is also largely undisputed.
What is controversial, however, is the question of whether Switzerland could work better with other countries if it were part of the oligarch task force. When asked, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) writes: “Switzerland already works closely with many institutions, committees and states without joining them for this reason.”
When I am faced with the enormous workload of implementing the sanctions, I will first exchange ideas with like-minded people.
Greta Fenner doesn’t doubt that: “But I could imagine that the willingness to exchange information is greater between the member states.” And for a simple psychological reason: “If I am confronted with the enormous workload that the implementation of the sanctions means, then I will first exchange ideas with like-minded people.” The others are also taken into account, but come in the second row.
Possible disadvantages of joining
For the Seco, however, the disadvantages of joining outweigh the disadvantages. There are fears that there could be pressure within the body to have to adopt those of the USA in addition to the EU sanctions. The Federal Council wants to be able to decide here on a case-by-case basis.
For Greta Fenner it is clear that accession would have a signaling effect on domestic and foreign policy. In contrast to Seco, it assumes that accession would expand Switzerland’s scope for action. “Switzerland could then get actively involved and help shape it.” Now you are on the receiving end of the task force.