World » Americas
Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Trump to shed light on 'dark' Russian politics and business prior to 2018 presidential election

On August 2, 2017, US President Donald Trump approved Federal Law No. 115-44 on "Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act" (CAATSA). The law regulates the imposition of sanctions against Iran, North Korea and Russia. Article 241 of the act obliges the US Treasury Secretary, after consultations with the head of the National Intelligence Service and the US Secretary of State, to submit a report to US Congress about key political figures and largest entrepreneurs of Russia linked with the Kremlin. The report, which is to be submitted not later than 180 days after the law enters into force, should indicate the size and sources of their income, personal wealth, information about their relatives' assets, as well as information about their business contacts with foreign companies.

Thus, in 100 days, Russian citizens, whose names appear in the "Report on oligarchs and parastatal entities of the Russian Federation," will face personal sanctions that will prohibit their entry to the US territory, freeze their assets and impose a ban on their business with US citizens and companies.

The report to the US Congress will touch upon not only offshore companies, but also investments of Russian state-run companies and parastatal entities in US securities, real estate, industrial and bank assets. If the source of the origin of money causes doubts at supervisory authorities, relevant accounts will be frozen and confiscated in court.

According to the law, such reports are to be submitted to Congress annually. The first one of them  must be announced by the end of January in early February 2018 - 1.5 months before the scheduled presidential election in Russia on March 18. The US Treasury and intelligence services will thus focus their attention on hundreds of Russia's wealthiest people: the entire political leadership, including members of the government, MPs, members of the Council of the Federation, representatives of big business. Foreign bank accounts and all real estate of the Russian business and political elite and their close relatives will thus be checked for corruption.

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) of the United States believes that Russia is one of the world leaders when it comes to offshore finance. As of 2016, the agency said, Russian oligarchs and officials kept an amount equivalent to 60% of Russia's GDP in offshores - about 60 trillion rubles (more than one trillion dollars).

The easiest way for Russian politicians and oligarchs to preserve their wealth is to return their money to Russia and transfer their property from offshore to Russian jurisdiction, even though this is not a profitable way for them to act.


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