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Duma gives first nod on foreign property ban for state officials and their families

Duma gives first nod on foreign property ban for state officials and their families
Russia’s Lower House approved the first reading of a bill that forbids a broad circle of civil servants and state officials as well as their spouses and underage children to own property abroad.

The approved amendments to the existing law “On Countering Corruption” and the Criminal Code were passed by 437 MPs with no one voting against and just one abstention.

According to the draft law, the ban applies to civil servants of all levels, members of Parliament, persons undergoing military service, employees of the Interior Ministry, Federal Penal Service, Federal Drug Control Service, Investigation Committee, prosecutors’ offices and customs. The limitation also spreads to the spouses and underage children of the listed groups.

The officials cannot own real estate, bank accounts and securities.

The bill introduces fines from five to ten million roubles ($160000-$320000) or a prison term of up to five years as punishment for violations.

Those civil servants who currently possess foreign property must get rid of it before June 1, 2013. If an official inherits some foreign assets in future they must be sold or passed to another person within one year after the property rights come into force.

Morever, those who leave state posts will have no opportunity to acquire foreign assets within three years after the official resignation.

The bill has been submitted jointly by members of all four parliamentary factions.

As United Russia MP Vyacheslav Lysakov was presenting the bill to the Lower House he noted that the bill still had some flaws and invited the deputies to make amendments to it. However, the parliamentarian added that the concept of the bill had already received the full support of President Putin who spoke about such measures in his recent address to the Federal Assembly.

In his Duma speech Lysakov called the bill “new morals for the national elite” and emphasized that it had “a great virtue component” in it.

The second and third reading of the bill will take place next year.