Russian officials have three months to get rid of financial assets abroad as part of a campaign led by President Vladimir Putin to stem corruption and capital flight.
Sergei Ivanov, Putin’s chief of staff, announced on Tuesday measures related a drive to “de-offshore” the Russian economy – a term used by Putin in the first state of the nation of speech of his new term last year.
“If a person has foreign accounts today, we are giving him three months to get rid of these accounts,” he said.
He added that Putin had signed two decrees designed to accompany legislation he submitted to parliament in February, which would bar many officials and state company executives from holding bank accounts, stocks and other financial instruments abroad.
The bill initially submitted to parliament by the president forbade officials from owning property abroad, and allowed officials to open foreign accounts through Russian banks.
Ivanov dismissed suspicion among critics who suspect the measures were aimed at boosting Putin’s image by portraying him as taking tough action on Russia’s ruling elite.
“The fight against corruption is no public relations campaign or attempt to draw attention away from serious problems, it is a long war,” Ivanov said.
He said corruption “discredits the authorities”, saying it is a “rust that eats away at the very foundations of statehood and public morals.”
Russia ranked 133rd out of 174 states in Transparency International’s 2012 Corruption Perception Index. Its central bank chief said in February that almost $50 billion was sent abroad illegally last year.