World · August 3, 2022

Switzerland, a leader in gold refining, bans the import of Russian gold

Switzerland banned imports of Russian gold and gold products on Wednesday, in the wake of similar moves by the European Union and the United States.

The Federal Council, the seven-member executive committee of the Swiss government, said in a statement that the ban on gold is in line with the latest EU sanctions against Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine and that Switzerland is “implementing the most urgent measures in terms of time and substance”.

The council added that it had frozen the assets of the Russian state-owned bank Sberbank, after imposing sanctions on dozens of individuals and organizations on the EU sanctions list last month.

“The list of persons and entities sanctioned in Switzerland in relation to the situation in Ukraine is therefore fully in line with that of the EU,” said the Council.

Agricultural products and oil supplies remain excluded from sanctions, the statement said, attributing this decision to the global food and energy crisis.

The country is a leader in the gold refining market, according to a 2018 report on the watch and jewelry industry from the World Wildlife Fund, with 60-70% of the world’s gold passing through Switzerland to be refined. Precious metal is a common material in Swiss luxury watches.

The European Union banned imports from Russia of freshly minted and refined gold in July, following similar announcements from the United States, Britain and other Group of 7 countries in June.

Officials have described the gold sanctions as another strategy to isolate Russia from the international financial system, with Ukraine’s allies already banning most of its trade with Russia.