Global sanctions guide

  1. Does Switzerland have a sanctions regime in place?

Yes. Since 1 January 2003, the sanctions regime in place is based on the Federal Act on the Implementation of International Sanctions of 22 March 2002 (also known as the Embargo Act, “EmbA”).

  1. Does Switzerland implement UN sanctions?


  1. Does Switzerland implement an autonomous sanctions regime?

Yes. Since 1 January 2003, the EmbA has formed the legal basis for the implementation of sanctions enforced in Switzerland. The EmbA provides a legislative framework in relation to general sanctions matters (such as aim; scope of authority; duty of disclosure; supervision of compliance; data protection; administrative and legal assistance; rights of appeal; and criminal provisions). Specific measures such as those taken in relation to a particular state or regime are contained in separate ordinances issued by the Federal Council based on the EmbA.

  1. What is the nature of the sanctions regime in Switzerland?

Swiss sanctions are predominantly of an economic nature, but may include noneconomic measures. Pursuant to Article 1(3) of the EmbA, compulsory measures may, in particular:

  • directly or indirectly restrict transactions involving goods and services, payment and capital transfers, and the movement of persons, as well as scientific, technological and cultural exchanges;
  • include prohibitions, licensing and reporting obligations, as well as other restrictions of rights.
  1. Does Switzerland maintain a list of sanctioned individuals and entities?

Yes, a list exists and is updated by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (“SECO”). The full list is available at http://www.seco.admin.ch/seco/en/home/Aussenwirtschaftspolitik_Wirtschaftliche_Zusammenarbeit/Wirtschaftsbeziehungen/exportkontrollen-und-sanktionen/sanktionen-embargos.html

Sanctioned individuals and entities can also be found using the online searching application of SECO at http://www.seco.admin.ch/seco/de/home/Aussenwirtschaftspolitik_Wirtschaftliche_Zusammenarbeit/Wirtschaftsbeziehungen/exportkontrollen-und-sanktionen/sanktionen-embargos/sanktionsmassnahmen/suche_sanktionsadressaten.html

  1. Are there any other lists related to sanctions?

A list of current and lifted sanctions is also made available on SECO’s website at https://www.seco.admin.ch/seco/en/home/Aussenwirtschaftspolitik_Wirtschaftliche_Zusammenarbeit/Wirtschaftsbeziehungen/exportkontrollen-und-sanktionen/sanktionen-embargos.html.

For each of the listed sanctions targets, the relevant coercive measures are specified.

  1. Does Switzerland have a licensing or authorization system in place?

Yes, the Federal Council may introduce licensing obligations in relation to certain activities pursuant to Article 1(3) of the EmbA.

  1. What are the consequences for a breach of sanctions in Switzerland?

A breach of sanctions may result in imprisonment for up to five years, which may be combined with a fine of up to CHF 1 million (Section 5 of the EmbA).

Furthermore, any refusal to provide information, to hand over documents, or to permit access to business premises, may result in detention or in a fine of up to CHF 100,000.

Businesses can also be held criminally liable for breach of sanctions, as can managing directors, employers, delegators or principals who intentionally or negligently fail to prevent a breach committed by a “subordinate” (Section 12 of the EmbA).

  1. Who are the relevant regulators in Switzerland and what are their contact details

The supervisory authorities are appointed by the Federal Council. The relevant regulators are however not listed.

Specific questions regarding the Swiss sanctions regime can be addressed to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, SECO

Holzikofenweg 36
Berne, 3003

T: (+41) 58 464 08 12
E: sanctions@seco.admin.ch

Contributor law firm

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