At the beginning of 2011, the Federal Council reacted immediately to the uprisings taking place at the time in a number of Arab countries by ordering, as a preventive measure, a freeze on the assets in Switzerland of ousted president Ben Ali and his entourage. It announced a similar freeze in the context of the crisis in Ukraine in February 2014.
The Federal Act on the Freezing and the Restitution of Illicit Assets held by Foreign Politically Exposed Persons (FIAA), which came into force on 1 July 2016, governs the duration of freezes and annual extensions to them. An extension is possible if cooperation within the framework of mutual legal assistance bears fruit.
The freezes on the assets relating to Tunisia (CHF 56 million) and Ukraine (CHF 70 million), which have been extended twice by one year on the basis of Federal Council decisions on 9 December 2016 and 20 December 2017, will expire in January and February 2019 respectively. Several proceedings have been initiated against the main individuals concerned, and the authorities of these countries have taken active steps to advance these cases at the judicial level. Court rulings are, however, still required to determine whether or not the origins of the frozen assets are illicit. The Federal Council's decision to extend the freeze on the assets is warranted because its objective has not yet been fully met while the legal conditions for its extension remain valid. This one-year extension will increase the likelihood of the assets being returned to the country of origin.
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