Overseas accounts banned for public officials in Russia

Moscow, April 25 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The lower house of the Russian parliament has passed a bill in its final reading, banning public officials, lawmakers and judges from having foreign bank accounts or holding stocks or bonds abroad.

In February, President Vladimir Putin submitted the bill to the State Duma as part of the Kremlin’s much touted anti-corruption drive.

The bill was amended in its second reading to extend the ban to all foreign securities, including traveller’s checks.

State and government officials are also banned from holding any valuables – including precious metals – with foreign banks and cannot use foreign financial instruments for trust management.

After Putin signs the bill into law, government officials will have three months to close any foreign accounts and transfer their funds to Russia or quit their government posts.

The bill does, however, allow state officials to own property abroad, on the condition that they declare it and explain the sources of the income used to buy it.

The issue of Russian state officials owning property abroad has come under the spotlight recently, with several of them resigning amid allegations that they owned undeclared real estate overseas.

Russia ranked 133rd of 174 countries in the latest Corruption Perceptions Index by the Transparency International watchdog, alongside Iran, Kazakhstan and Honduras.

Corruption has been cited by the government itself as one of the principal threats to Russia’s national security.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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