(Adds statement from EuroChem)
ZURICH, June 10 (Reuters) - Fertiliser giant EuroChem Group AG must show it is able to comply with sanctions imposed on its beneficial owner Aleksandra Melnichenko or risk violating Swiss law, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said on Friday.
Switzerland on Friday followed the European Union in blacklisting Aleksandra Melnichenko in a move meaning assets owned or controlled by Melnichenko must be blocked and reported to SECO.
Her husband, Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, had signed the Zug-based company over to her in March as the EU prepared sanctions against him.
“EuroChem, as a Swiss company, is legally bound to comply with Swiss law, including sanctions,” SECO said in an emailed statement. “It is up to EuroChem to take the necessary measures within the Swiss legal system to allow the company to continue to exist.”
EuroChem said it would ensure compliance with Swiss and other laws.
“We have always cooperated with authorities in all territories with full transparency to ensure legal compliance in all areas of our business, and will continue to do so,” EuroChem said in a statement.
A spokesperson for the Melnichenkos did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reuters reported last month that Andrey Melnichenko had ceded ownership of EuroChem and SUEK - two of the world’s largest fertiliser and coal companies - to his wife Aleksandra on March 8, the day before the EU sanctioned him.
According to both EuroChem and a spokesperson for the couple, Aleksandra Melnichenko is the beneficial owner of EuroChem.
The company must now present evidence to demonstrate it is able to operate legally in order for SECO to come to an assessment, a SECO spokesperson said by phone.
SECO did not provide a timeline for how long EuroChem would be given to provide such evidence.
EuroChem has already taken some steps, including scrapping dividends and providing written assurances that “no funds or economic resources will be made available, directly or indirectly, to sanctioned persons”.
The SECO spokesperson declined to comment on whether these measures might be deemed sufficient. (Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; additional reporting by David Gauthier-Villars; editing by Jason Neely, David Evans and Louise Heavens)
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