Switzerland banned imports of Russian gold and gold products on Wednesday, following similar moves by the European Union and the United States.
The Federal Council, the seven-member executive council of the Swiss government, told a statement that the gold ban is in line with the European Union’s latest sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, and that Switzerland is “implementing the most urgent measures in terms of time and substance.”
The council added that it had frozen the assets of Russian state bank Sberbank, following sanctions imposed last month on dozens more individuals and organizations on the European Union’s sanctions list.
“Switzerland’s list of persons and entities subject to sanctions in relation to the situation in Ukraine is therefore fully in line with that of the EU,” the council said.
Agricultural products and oil supplies remain exempt from sanctions, the statement said, attributing the decision to the global food and energy crisis.
The country leads the gold refining market, according to the watch and jewelry industry 2018 report from the World Wildlife Fund, with 60 to 70 percent of the world’s gold passing through Switzerland to be refined. The precious metal is a common material in Swiss luxury watches.
The European Union in July banned imports from Russia of new mint and refined gold, following similar announcements by the United States, Britain and other Group of 7 countries in June.
Officials described the gold sanctions as another strategy to isolate Russia from the international financial system, with Ukraine’s allies already prohibiting most trade with Russia.