They reveal that Russian oligarchs transferred millions of dollars to Swiss banks despite prohibitions in that country

In November 2022, Alexander Ponomarenko’s partner owned about $26 million in the Julius Baer bank (REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann) (ARND WIEGMANN/)

Some wealthy Russians continued transferring money to Switzerland long after they started the invasion of Ukraineas revealed this Thursday by an investigation by the Tamedia media group, which details the example of a director of a public company who actively supports the war.

According to the investigation, the daughter and partner of Alexander Ponomarenkodirector of Mosvodokanal, a company that supplies drinking water to the Moscow agglomeration, deposited “millions in Switzerland, even after the war began.”

The group’s research unit analyzed, in collaboration with several media outlets, Russian documents and data from a Zurich asset manager that appeared on the dark web after a cyber attack.

In June 2022, when the UN in Geneva was denouncing the atrocities against civilians in Mariupol, Ponomarenko’s daughter opened “almost at the same time” an account in the Reyl bank in Zurich, in which an amount of “9.5 million dollars” was entered “shortly later.”

In November 2022, his partner owned about “26 million dollars in Julius Baer, ​​and 4.5 million in the Pictet bank.”

However, In March 2022, Switzerland had prohibited its banks from accepting deposits of more than 100,000 Swiss francs ($110,000). coming from Russian citizens. Several banks, including Julius Baer, ​​even announced they would part ways with their Russian clients.

Alexander Ponomarenko Russia
Russian oligarch Alexander Ponomarenko and his family managed to transfer millions of dollars to different Swiss banks (Grosby)

But these restrictions can be easily avoided, for example by using “golden passports”.

Ponomarenko’s couple and daughter have a passport or residence permit in a European Union (EU) country, which allows them not to be “considered as clients ‘from Russia’,” Tamedia said.

Although Ponomarenko is not among the Russians sanctioned by Ukraine’s allies, “the daughter and partner of the director of a public company are politically exposed people” and therefore “high-risk clients,” he told the Tamedia group. Gretta Fennerdirector of the Basel Institute on Governance, which helps governments track down illegal assets.

Contacted by the news agency AFP, Julius Baer bank assured that it respects “all applicable laws and regulations”but did not want to comment on the relationships with his “alleged or current clients.”

Reyl also said it complied with the rules, and Pictet invoked Swiss law that prohibits any statements about its existing or non-existing banking relationships.

Putin criticized the freezing of assets of Russian businessmen (Alexander Kazakov, Sputnik, photo pool Kremlin via AP)
Putin criticized the freezing of assets of Russian businessmen (Alexander Kazakov, Sputnik, photo pool Kremlin via AP) (Alexander Kazakov/)

Switzerland is regularly criticized, especially by the United States, which accuses it of not doing enough to trace the assets of Russian oligarchs.

For his part, the president of Russia, Vladimir Putinsaid Tuesday that the West’s seizure of Russian assets “crosses all borders.”

“The seizure of funds, no longer mine, but those obtained legally by our companies, our businessmen, simply crosses all admissible borders,” said the head of the Kremlin during his speech at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, at the Russian Far East.

“But the people who did this do not even understand the negative consequences for themselves, they still do not appreciate it,” said the Kremlin head.

Only Europe froze, at the beginning of the war that Russia launched in February 2022 in Ukraine, some 19 billion euros to Russian oligarchs. In addition, the West blocked $300 billion in gold and foreign exchange reserves from the Central Bank of Russia (BCR).

(With information from AFP)