Switzerland makes it possible
Oligarch bypasses sanctions with tricks
Not all oligarchs have to part with their companies and stocks to protect the companies from sanctions. This could be the case of Russian billionaire Andrei Melnichenko (50) and his wife Alexandra (45).
Andrej Melnichenko is the founder of…
Is Switzerland closing its eyes to the oligarch? Many super-rich Russians are now on the EU sanctions list and are also sanctioned by Switzerland. So that the companies they control do not suffer too much damage, some have sold their shares or entire companies. As in the case of Roman Abramovich (55), who had to sell his football club Chelsea.
Others seem to get away with it more easily, as the “Tagesanzeiger” suspects. It may even happen that the Russian billionaire Andrey Melnicchenko (50) and his wife Alexandra (45) will manage to circumvent the sanctions with the help of Switzerland.
Russian lives in St. Moritz GR and is the founder of Eurochem, based in Zug. The company is one of the most important producers of fertilizers in the world. Like many other oligarchs, Melnichenko followed a request from Vladimir Putin, 70, to meet the Russian head of state in Moscow shortly after the war broke out. Purpose of action: support for Putin’s war.
The wife takes over
Many participants immediately ended up on various EU and Swiss sanctions lists. Although Melnichenko relinquished control of the company, he transferred it to his wife Alexandra. When the maneuver was revealed, there was great outrage around the world and even the wife ended up on sanctions lists. Unlike her husband, however, she did not have to part with the shares, it is said that she even directly controls a well-known block of Eurochem shares through a shell company in Cyprus. According to the “Tagesanzeiger”, Switzerland has officially approved the maneuver. On the grounds that the sanctions do not apply to Eurochem.
Some EU countries and also some European banks are much stricter. Switzerland is “not legally or politically obliged to join EU sanctions or their implementation by individual member states,” the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) quoted the “Tagesanzeiger” as saying.
Fencing instead of selling
The newspaper suspects so-called “ring fencing” as the reason why the oligarch’s wife did not have to part with her shares in Eurochem. The point here is that the sanctioned person does not receive any funds from the company, such as dividend payments. The advantage of this “fence”: Although no money flows, at the same time a complete sale of shares is not necessary to protect the company.
This puts the Melnichenkos in a better position than other oligarchs who have had to divest their companies – or even their football clubs – entirely. Although it is not clear whether Switzerland contributed to such a trick, this suspicion alone causes outrage in the federal government of Bern: “If dividends are not paid, it means that the company and thus the trust’s share becomes more valuable. The beneficiaries of the trust are still benefiting because the distribution of the profits is only being postponed,” fears FDP president Thierry Burkart (47) in the “Tagesanzeiger”. (who)