President Putin Offers 3-Month Offshore-Tax-Cheat ‘Amnesty’: ‘There Can Be No Untouchables’

Putin Offers 3-Month Offshore-Tax-Cheat ‘Amnesty’: “There Can Be No Untouchables” (ZeroHedge, April 3, 2013):

“This is the nationalization of the elite,” is how one ex-Kremlin-ite described Putin’s new policy. “For [years], the elite saw Russia as a hunting ground – they would keep their money and live somewhere else,” but no more, as the FT reports, Putin has moved to inject some moral fibre into the country’s top-level bureaucrats and state employees by giving them a three-month deadline to close their foreign bank accounts and divest themselves of offshore assets – or face the sack. “There is a sort of algorithm [in Russia] for civil servants. You stash a lot of money abroad, send your family to live there, and then when you retire, you join them. This new legislation will put a question mark next to the career plan of a generation of top-level people.” Putin’s new decree makes it clear, “There are no untouchables and there cannot be any.”

Via The FT,

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has moved to inject some moral fibre into the country’s top-level bureaucrats and state employees by giving them a three-month deadline to close their foreign bank accounts and divest themselves of offshore assets – or face the sack.

According to a new presidential decree, signed on Tuesday, thousands of Russian civil servants have until July 1 to file declarations of income and assets, which will be subject to stringent checks. No one would be above the law, said Sergei Ivanov, Mr Putin’s chief of staff, and anyone caught still in possession of the prohibited assets would be instantly dismissed.

“There are no untouchables and there cannot be any,” he said.

The decree is the president’s latest move to “de-offshore” Russia’s economy,

“This is [the] nationalisation of the elite,” said Konstantin Kostin, the former Kremlin deputy head of domestic policy who now heads the Foundation for the Development of Civil Society, a Moscow think-tank.

“For a long time, many in the elite saw Russia as a hunting ground – they would keep their money and live somewhere else,” he added. “That problem cannot be addressed by one law, of course, but only by political willpower and the consolidation of society around the idea.”

Mr Putin’s decree is apparently intended to stiffen political spines and spur the passage of a law rather than do away with the need for one, with conventional legislation seen as giving the anti-corruption drive a greater mandate.

“The [foreign assets] law will go through, but not in the expected timeframe,” said Mr Kabanov. “[The elite] needed a decree to demonstrate to them the president’s resolve, and to introduce the new reporting requirements in time for this year.”

Ksenia Sorokina, editor of Moscow-based Snob magazine, said: “There is a sort of algorithm [in Russia] for civil servants. You stash a lot of money abroad, send your family to live there, and then when you retire, you join them. This new legislation will put a question mark next to the career plan of a generation of top-level people.”

However, the decree appeared to contain loopholes. For example, Yevgeny Shkolov, a senior official in the president’s administration, told the news agency Interfax that revenues of companies registered to family members of civil servants need not be declared.

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