Swiss parliamentarians on Wednesday rejected a proposal for their country to join a G7 taskforce tracking and seizing the assets of Russian tycoons after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Green Party had argued that Switzerland, long a favored destination for wealthy Russians and their assets, should become a member of the G7 nations' Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) taskforce.

But 101 members of Switzerland's lower house of parliament, the National Council, voted against the proposal, with only 80 backing it.

The Swiss government also opposed the contentious move by the traditionally neutral nation.

Backers had argued that Switzerland's military neutrality, which bars it from providing arms to Kyiv, was an argument for joining the oligarch-tracking taskforce.

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"It is all the more important that here, in an area where we have room to maneuver, we take a clear position," Green Party MP Franzizka Ryser told the chamber as she defended the proposal.

She pointed out that Switzerland's financial and commodities trading markets have long attracted Russian money, while Swiss banks are estimated to hold 150-200 billion Swiss francs ($165-220 billion).

"And yet, Switzerland has until now only frozen around 7.5 billion francs," Ryser said, voicing understanding for international criticism of the Swiss position.

Despite its neutrality, Switzerland swiftly aligned itself with European Union sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

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As the G7 ministers gathered, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree allowing the confiscation of assets inside Russia belonging to US companies or citizens.

But last April, G7 ambassadors in Bern delivered a letter to the Swiss government questioning the slow pace at which it was freezing Russian assets and warning loopholes could allow the evasion of sanctions.

They also urged Switzerland to join the REPO taskforce set up by the G7 in March 2022.

During Wednesday's parliament meeting, Radical-Liberal Party parliamentarian Hans-Peter Portmann highlighted that "Switzerland is already working with numerous countries and organizations, including REPO, at a technical level".

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"It is doing its job, and even better than other countries," he told the chamber, but warned that becoming a REPO member risked weakening Switzerland's ability to serve as a mediator.

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