Swiss bankers fear exodus of Chinese wealth – Financial Times

8 months ago 5

Investors are reportedly worried about the safety of their assets after Switzerland froze billions in Russian funds

Executives at major banks in Switzerland have warned that the country’s decision to support Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia is having a negative impact on Swiss lenders, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

The unnamed banking officials told the media outlet that rich clientele from China are seriously worried about depositing their money in Swiss banks, after Bern ditched its policy of neutrality by freezing billions in Russian assets as part of sanctions.

In February, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs reported that some $8.1 billion of Russian money was frozen by sanctions. Meanwhile, Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-largest bank, reportedly blocked over $19 billion in Russian assets.

“We were not just surprised but shocked that Switzerland abandoned its neutral status,” a board director who oversees Asian operations at his bank told the FT. “I have statistical evidence that literally hundreds of clients that were looking to open accounts are now not.”

The media outlet reportedly spoke with executives from six of Switzerland’s 10 largest lenders about their experience with private clients.

“The question of sanctions has come up with clients,” another senior official said. “It was definitely a topic of concern with clients late last year. They were asking whether their money would be safe with us.”

The Swiss banking sector is the world’s biggest destination for offshore wealth, boasting a quarter of the global total, and accounts for 10% of the country’s gross domestic product, Anke Reingen, an analyst at RBC, told the newspaper.

Switzerland moved against Russian clients too quickly, according to another bank executive, who called for a line to be drawn on what the government should and shouldn’t get involved in.

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