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Corruption continues to take a huge bite out of Russian Economy

Presenting in Moscow the results of a two-year study of corruption, the director of the INDEM think tank, Georgii Satarov, said that Russians pay about $37 billion each year in bribes and unofficial fees, a sum that is roughly equivalent to the revenue portion of the 2002 federal budget and equals about 12 percent of the country's gross domestic product, Russian news agencies reported on 22 May.

Satarov, a former political adviser to President Boris Yeltsin, said that the study, which was funded by the Danish government via the World Bank, demonstrates that corruption remains a formidable element of the Russian economy. About 90 percent of the bribes are paid by businesses, with roughly 75 percent going to low-level local officials, although Satarov said that many bribes are then passed on to more highly placed officials. Among the leading "corruption services," the study named export licensing and quotas, state budget transactions, tax transfers, customs duties, privatization deals, and the servicing of regional debts to the federal budget. Although corruption has a long history in Russia, Satarov argued that it has increased massively in scale and become much more cynical in form during the postcommunist period.

...as Russia hopes to repatriate money laundering in Switzerland

During the recent visit of a delegation from the Russian Audit Chamber to Geneva, investigators showed a keen interest in repatriating Swiss bank deposits that allegedly stem from several money-laundering cases from the 1990s, Le Temps reported on 21 May.

"We are talking about a sum of at least 300-500 million Swiss francs [$190-316 million]," an unidentified Geneva lawyer with whom the Audit Chamber has had contacts told the newspaper. Moscow is especially interested in a controversial deal involving Angolan debt to the Soviet Union that was carried out by then-Deputy Finance Minister Andrei Vavilov, and an estimated $300 million belonging to Russian businessman Sergei Maiorov, who allegedly illegally transferred these funds out of Russia.

(RFE/RL 22.v.02)

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