Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg said he wanted to send part of the money that was frozen on his accounts in Switzerland due to US sanctions to fight the coronavirus pandemic. However, Swiss banks, according to the businessman, refused to meet him.
“We, as a sanctioned person in the context of American law, have repeatedly appealed, for example, to Swiss financial institutions, in particular, investment bank Julius Baer, with a request to send part of the frozen funds to solve pandemic problems. Not in any business, to charity. We were refused, ”said the chairman of the board of directors of the Renova group of companies during the online session of the Russian Business Week of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (quoted by Interfax).
“Nonsense! This is barbarism - in the 21st century, faced with such human problems, make such decisions, ”the billionaire emphasized. He called on the international business community to "take the initiative to overcome artificial barriers in this regard."
In April 2018, the US Treasury Department included Vekselberg and the Renova group of companies in the Sanctioned SDN list (Specially Designated Nationals, in the list of people with special categories). Entering the SDN List means a complete ban on any transaction by the Americans with a company or businessman. The US explained that sanctions against the billionaire were imposed because of “his activities in the energy sector of the Russian economy”, and also because “two people close to Vekselberg were detained by the Russian authorities for bribing officials” (it was a co-owner and Managing Director of Renova Evgeny Olkhovik and General Director of T Plus Energy Company Boris Vainzikher).
After that, Swiss banks froze about 1 billion francs ($ 1.04 billion) in Vekselberg's personal accounts.