Swiss banks, fearing sanctions from the US, blocked funds on Viktor Vekselberg's personal accounts, and now the billionaire intends to sue them, the weekly Schweiz am Wochenende reported last week with reference to sources familiar with the matter (the text of the material is reprinted by the Watson website) .
Source Forbes in the group "Renova" specified that it is about 1 billion francs. The funds were blocked not only by public banks (UBS, Credit Suisse), but also private ones, including Julius Baer. According to him, claims to these banks are now in the process of preparation. Vekselberg's accounts could be blocked even by the Bank of Cyprus, whose co-owner with a share of 9.27% is a billionaire. About this Forbes told an employee of one of the Cypriot companies working with the Bank of Cyprus. It was not possible to confirm this information in Renova.
Schweiz am Wochenende emphasizes that the accounts were opened in accordance with Swiss law and the assets on them were denominated in francs, not in dollars. Sources of the publication argue that in addition to civil suits against the banks themselves can be filed and criminal - to those responsible for blocking employees. "Swiss banks are in a gripe," a source close to Renova assured in an interview with the publication.
Formally, the sanctions implied that operations with companies and individuals that fell under them were forbidden to American banks, but, apparently, Swiss banks decided to be reinsured, believes partner of Tertychny Agabalyan Marat Agabalyan. "Swiss banks are generally very cautious in their relationships with their customers, but in this case they apparently feared sanctions in the form of financial responsibility to the US, since most such banks are active and have relevant assets in the US, therefore, the risk of losing their assets is large enough, "Agablian explains. The US authorities can, in fact, impose appropriate responsibility on any person who violates the sanctions imposed by them, the expert continues. In his view, it is unlikely that banks could violate Swiss law: "They will first get 20 lawyer opinions, and only then they will take some action."
Teacher of the Department of International Law, Moscow State University. Lomonosov and the sanctions expert Sergei Glandin believes that the situation is ambiguous. "From the point of view of Swiss law, such actions (the blocking of Vekselberg's accounts - Forbes) are illegal. From the point of view of American law, which includes sanctions regulation, - are legitimate, "- he explains. According to the expert, Vekselberg really has chances to win a court in Switzerland. "Only the decision of the court will be solomon," adds Forbes, and explains: "It is very likely that the court formally recognizes the banks as violating the rights of the client, and denial of service with reference to US sanctions is illegal. But the most significant will still be the issue of compensation for losses. "Here, referring to the doctrine of financial and economic viability (survival) of the bank, the court most likely will not charge Vekselberg any significant sums. Banks will be covered by expert opinions of prominent economists and lawyers and will be able to prove to the court that failure to comply with US sanctions requirements is fraught with huge fines for the bank, disconnection from the dollar system and, ultimately, survival ", concludes Glandin.
The blockade affected not only Vekselberg's personal accounts. Schweiz am Wochenende argues that for several days a number of banks including UBS and Credit Suisse have denied the Russian billionaire access to large stakes in Swiss industrial companies Sulzer, OC Oerlikon and Schmolz + Bickenbach. The shares were pledged as collateral for two loans worth more than 1 billion Swiss francs, which Vekselberg received from a group of western banks including JPMorgan, UBS and Credit Suisse. After the introduction of sanctions in April, Vekselberg had to repay these loans ahead of schedule. After the repayment of loans, industrial assets were finally released from bail, the Forbes source in Renova specified. Before that, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters that Renova received state support, but declined to say which. As was later clarified in the Finance Ministry, it was a question of Promsvyazbank (PSB) loan on market terms. Renova's press secretary Andrei Storch confirmed this information to the Swiss publication: "We have never intended to apply for financial assistance to the Russian state. Accordingly, we have not received such assistance. " He specified that loans were issued on "market terms".