Millions of dollars worth of luxury Audemars Piguet watches have reportedly been seized by Russian officials.
The timepieces were confiscated by Russia’s secret service FSB from the watch brand’s subsidiary in Moscow over alleged customs breaches, Swiss news outlet NZZ am Sonntag reported, citing a confidential foreign affairs department memo written on Wednesday (local time).
It came just days after Switzerland followed the European Union and imposed sanctions against Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.
But Swiss officials say the seizure was “most likely an arbitrary repressive measure in response to the sanctions”, according to the memo.
A spokesperson for Switzerland’s Department of Foreign Affairs told SupercarBlondie.com they could not comment on the matter as the embassy and the state secretariat of economic affairs was “bound to confidentiality”.
But the spokesperson did add: “The Swiss Embassy in Moscow protects the interests of Swiss companies in Russia in close coordination with our State Secretariat of Economic Affairs. It does so only upon request for regulatory and consular matters.
“In the wake of the sanctions and Russian countermeasures, companies are facing numerous uncertainties and regulatory measures. This leads to many requests for assistance. The Embassy is currently maintaining a very intensive exchange with companies on site.”
SupercarBlondie.com has contacted Audemars Piguet for comment on the matter.
Watch stores closed
Meanwhile on its website, the watch brand lists its two Moscow stores as “temporarily closed”.
Watch exports to Russia from Switzerland totalled to US$278 million last year, the BBC reported, citing industry officials.
As tensions in Ukraine continue to escalate, Russian assets have been seized across the world.
Earlier this month, a private jet with suspected links to Russian oligarch Eugene Shvidler was impounded at a British airport.
The aircraft – a Bombardier Global 6500 – is worth a reported $44 million to $56 million.
It came after UK closed its airspace to Russian-owned private aircraft.
Italian police also seized a superyacht owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko.
According to the Italian government, the 143-metre Sailing Yacht, reportedly worth $578 million, was seized at the northern port of Trieste.