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Switzerland seizes vacation home as part of sanctions on Russian oligarchs

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By Michael Shields

ZURICH, March 21 (Reuters) – Swiss authorities have seized a luxurious mountain home believed to be owned by a Russian oligarch, as bankers and officials work extras to track down the assets of people linked to Moscow in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine.

The official real estate office for the canton of Bern said it believed the flat belonged to Petr Aven, identified by Switzerland as a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a major shareholder in the group that owns the largest private bank in the country. Russia, Alpha.

The three-bed flat is located on the fifth floor of a luxury golf resort complex in the picturesque Bernese Oberland, surrounded by snow-capped peaks, according to the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

Aven, 67, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, but said last month he would challenge “spurious and baseless” European Union sanctions adopted by Switzerland.

Switzerland, which prides itself on its neutrality in international affairs, has a large asset management business and is a major trading center for Russian raw materials.

Its banks hold up to $213 billion of Russian wealth, according to estimates by the banking lobby.

After initial hesitation, Switzerland accepted the EU sanctions against hundreds of Russians on February 28. It has since expanded its list to fully comply with EU measures.

On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky urged Switzerland to seize the assets of people he says help wage war. Poland echoed this on Monday.

(Reporting added to Guy Faulconbridge in London; edited in Spanish by Benjamín Mejías Valencia)

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