Since 1 July 2016, ordinances implementing the preventive freezing of assets of politically exposed persons (PEPs) and their entourage are based on the Federal Act on the Freezing and the Restitution of Illicit Assets held by Foreign Politically Exposed Persons (Foreign Illicit Assets Act, FIAA).

Foreign Illicit Assets Act

With the freezing of assets, the Federal Council provides support to the judicial authorities of the states concerned in order to enable them to communicate their request for mutual legal assistance in the framework of their criminal proceedings to Switzerland. It is in the responsibility of the relevant judicial authorities of the country in question to initiate the necessary criminal proceedings and to demonstrate the illicit origin of the frozen assets.

Following violence and unrest, as well as the fall of incumbent rulers, the Federal Council took measures to freeze the assets of former presidents Ben Ali (Tunisia-Ordinance), Mubarak (Egypt-Ordinance) and Yanukovych (Ukraine-Ordinance) as well as of persons from their entourage.

The Ordinance on the freezing of assets in connection with Ukraine expired at midnight on 27 February 2023 following the decision of the Federal Council of 15 February 2023 to launch administrative proceedings to confiscate assets frozen in Switzerland following the Ukrainian revolution in February 2014. The confiscation proceedings in Switzerland will apply to all the assets liable to confiscation – in total over CHF 130 million.

Press release, 15.02.2023

The asset freeze ordinance relating to Tunisia expired on January 18, 2021, as it reached its statutory maximum duration of ten years.

In Egypt, several acquittals and reconciliation agreements contributed to the decision of the Egyptian judiciary to drop criminal proceedings in the most prominent cases with possible links to assets frozen in Switzerland. For this reason and in the absence of tangible results at the end of August 2017, the Swiss judicial authorities closed the mutual legal assistance procedures on cases with potential links to assets frozen in Switzerland. Therefore, the freeze on the Egyptian assets on the basis of the FIAA has no further purpose as defined by law and jurisprudence and the Federal Council lifted the freeze at its meeting on 20 December 2017.

Addendum on Libya and Syria

In the case of Libya, the Federal Council decided on 21 February 2011 to block any assets as a precautionary measure. At the end of March 2011, after the United Nations and the EU imposed sanctions on Libya, this freezing of assets was transferred to the sanctions regime, based on the Embargo Act. In the case of Syria, Switzerland again took action following the imposition of EU sanctions. In these two cases, Switzerland acts within the sanctions regime issued by the international community.

SECO: Sanctions against Libya (fr)

SECO: Sanctions against Syria (fr)

Last update 28.02.2023


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