Russian Agents seized multimillion-dollar Audemars Piguet watches in Moscow in apparent retaliation for Swiss sanctions banning the export of luxury goods, Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported.
The watches were confiscated from the company’s premises by special agents of the Russian FSB, the newspaper said, citing people familiar with a confidential Swiss Communication from the Foreign Office.
Switzerland has abandoned its traditionally neutral stance and aligned itself with EU sanctions that banned the export of luxury goods to Russia earlier this month in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian authorities cited customs offenses as the reason for the confiscation of Audemars Piguet watches.
Swiss Officials said the move was “most likely an indiscriminate repressive measure in response to the sanctions,” the newspaper reported, citing the memo. Audemars Piguet officials did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment. The Swiss watchmaker has halted exports to Russia and halted retail sales in Russia, a company spokesman told Bloomberg News on March 8.
A spokesman for the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs said the Swiss embassy in Moscow is supporting companies in Russia in coordination with other departments and “in the wake of sanctions and Russian countermeasures, companies are facing numerous uncertainties and regulatory measures.”
“The embassy is currently maintaining a very intensive exchange” with Swiss companies in Russia, said the spokesman. “Individual cases can therefore not be commented on, also to ensure the safety of the employees of these companies.”
For many of Europe’s leading consumer-facing companies, a complete exit from Russia has proven challenging. Companies like the Swiss food giant Nestle SA have thousands of employees and Production sites that could be confiscated through Russia.
Family owned For almost 150 years, Audemars Piguet has been one of the three largest independent Swiss watch brands alongside Patek Philippe and Rolex.
Russia was the 17th largest export market for Swiss watches in 2021, accounting for 260 million francs (255 million euros) in shipments, according to Swiss industry chiefs.
https://www.independent.ie/business/world/russia-seizes-luxury-watches-worth-millions-in-retaliation-for-swiss-sanctions-41492821.html Russia seizes millions worth of luxury watches in retaliation for Swiss sanctions