Author: Lawyer Enrico Germano
Since 1 January 2003, the Federal Act on the Application of International Sanctions (Embargo Act, EOA) has been the legal basis for the application of non-military sanctions adopted by the UN, the OSCE or Switzerland’s main trading partners to enforce compliance with international law and, in particular, human rights .
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) points out that Switzerland decides autonomously to what extent it will adhere to EU sanctions, without any automatism . The competence to enact coercive measures is conferred on the Federal Council, which issues them in the form of ordinances. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs points out that there are currently 25 ordinances in force based on the LEmb, including the Federal Ordinance of 4 March 2022 establishing measures in connection with the situation in Ukraine (Ukraine Ordinance) .
1. On 28 February 2022, the Federal Council informed that it had resumed the EU sanctions against Russia of 23 and 25 February and was freezing the assets of certain persons and companies with immediate effect.
2. On 4 March 2022, the Federal Council informed that it had resumed further packages of European Union sanctions against Russia, which relate in particular to the financial sector.
3. On 27 April 2022, sanctions again affecting the financial sector came into force, with a ban on providing any support to publicly controlled or publicly owned Russian organizations. It is also prohibited, with immediate effect, to set up trusts in Switzerland for Russian citizens or natural or legal persons established in Russia. Various services associated with such trusts have also been banned, with the introduction as of 27 April 2022 of the new Art. 28d of the Federal Ordinance of 4 March 2022, which instituted measures in connection with the situation in Ukraine.
4. On 29 June 2022, the Federal Council announced that in the financial sector, a ban on the provision of services such as auditing, public relations and consultancy to Russian companies and the Russian government as well as to legal persons and organizations established in Russia would be reintroduced.
5. On 3 August 2022, the Federal Council adopted further sanctions against Russia (ban on the purchase, import or transportation of gold and gold products from Russia).
6. On 31 August 2022, the Federal Council adopted further sanctions against Russia, consisting mainly of adjustments to existing measures, such as a freeze on assets and economic resources, a ban on accepting deposits or credit bans.
7. On 23 November 2022, 16 December 2022 and 25 January 2023, the Federal Council adopted further sanctions against Russia (price caps on Russian crude oil and oil products (oil price caps) and restrictions on other steel products, goods for the aviation and space industry and economically important goods for Russia).
8. On 15 February 2023, the Federal Council adjusted the measures against Russia concerning crude oil and oil products, thus taking over the latest sanctions adopted by the European Union (EU). The trade, brokering and transport of, for example, heating oil from Russia or of Russian origin is only permitted if the price per barrel does not exceed USD 45. For petrol, diesel or oil, a price ceiling of USD 100 per barrel applies.