Billions of dollars moved illegally from Russia in last 3 yrs – watchdog

© Maxim Zmeyev
Russia has seen 1.2 trillion rubles leave the country illegally between 2013 and 2015, according to the Accounts Chamber. This amounts to $18 billion at the current exchange rate, but $40 billion three years ago.

According to the watchdog, the current measures in Russia to tackle illegal cash outflow are completely ineffective.

There have been 17,374 cases where currency control laws have been broken. The Russian Federal Service for Fiscal and Budgetary Supervision has imposed fines of 664 billion rubles ($10 billion), but only three million rubles ($45,000) have been recovered, or 0.0005 percent.

To withdraw money from Russia, individuals register shell companies with just 10,000 rubles ($150) authorized capital. As the sum is insignificant, any person can register multiple firms and will only be liable for the amount of authorized capital.

Thus, one entrepreneur registered 1,243 companies which withdrew 500 million rubles under fake contracts. The scheme hasn’t changed for many years and Russian legislation has not been changed to close the loophole.

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The 1.2 trillion rubles estimated by the Accounts Chamber closely corresponds to the Central Bank’s $36.6 billion calculation in the same period.

Capital flight has been one of the greatest woes for the Russian budget. The cash exodus peaked at $153 billion in 2014.

An amnesty on all funds returning to Russia proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin expired on July 1. Before that date, taxpayers who declared their foreign assets and bank accounts were free from state prosecution for non-payment of taxes.