Switzerland’s banking lobby has revealed that the wealthy Russians have stashed away more than $200bn in the country’s banks.
The rare disclosure from the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) follows Switzerland’s move to break its long-observed neutrality and join the US and other western countries in sanctions against Russia over its continuing military attack in Ukraine.
The SBA estimates show that Swiss banks may hold between CHF150bn and CHF200bn on behalf of Russian clients in offshore accounts.
The association said that the figures were small in relation to overall assets held in the country, which is considered a safe harbour for stashing money by the world’s richest individuals.
The SBA said in an e-mailed response to Reuters: “The share of assets held for Russian clients likely accounts for a share in the low single-digit percentage range of the total cross-border assets deposited with Swiss banks.”
Wealthy individuals with a connection to Russian president Vladimir Putin saw their assets frozen in most parts of the globe as part of sanctions imposed on the country by the US and its allies in the wake of Ukraine invasion.
The sanctions also forced rich clients, who borrowed against Russian assets, to find more collateral after securities went down in value.
UBS and Credit Suisse, two of the leading investment banks in the country, triggered margin calls on such clients after slashing lending values of Russian debt.
Last week, Credit Suisse CEO Thomas Gottstein said that the Russian money made up approximately 4% of assets at the bank’s wealth management arm.
The firm earlier said that it will comply with Russia sanctions as a matter of ‘principle and policy’. . The firm also stated that its market risk exposure to Russia was ‘not significant’.
UBS recently disclosed $200m exposure to Russian assets that were used as collateral in loans.
The bank also said it has $10m of loans outstanding to its wealth management clients who fell under sanctions.