Panama 2: why Russian officials will not be able to hush up the scandal

James Henry, a Professor at Columbia University, in a recently published study about the withdrawal of capital to offshore jurisdictions indicates a growing interest of Russian residents to use tax havens. According to his estimates, by the end of 2014, Russia had withdrawn about $1.3 trillion. It is even somewhat larger than the volume of assets placed in the offshore jurisdiction of China, Hong Kong and Macau ($1.2 trillion).

Publication of the documents from “Panama records” only confirms these estimates. It may seem that basic cream in offshore scandal a month ago when they were filmed by journalists ICIJ consortium, identified among the owners of offshore entities in the first round of the Russian establishment: senators, deputies of the state Duma, the security forces, friends of the President. But a complete database of companies posted on the web will be of interest to a wide range of users.

The ICIJ team has already been subjected to harsh criticism from representatives of WikiLeaks, which insisted on the need of the publication available to journalists information uncut and free. Participants ICIJ has decided not to publish all the files, limiting the placement of the base with a search by name, registration address and company name that has severely reduced functionality information. However, the argument of investigative journalists that publication of the entire archive could destroy a good business the business has a right to exist. Experiment with partial redaction of information of public interest continues right before our eyes.

RBC journalists have found that 17 of the 66 Russian billionaires have namesakes among the defendants in the Panama documents. From the point of view of the analysis of corruption risks more interesting is that in the archives you can find namesakes shareholders of major Russian companies, receiving various state support or who is actively using government contracts. Here are just a few examples. The database contains references albert Koshkin, is the beneficiary of a Panama company CADEN FINANCE S. A. it is known that a certain albert Koshkin mentioned as the President of a major company, Novosibirsk OJSC “Sibmost”, which, according to information from the information system “Contour-Focus”, over the past ten years through participation in state contracts has mastered more than 105 billion rubles Panamanian documents contain information on the ownership of offshore company Martimer Investments Limited registered in the British virgin Islands the full namesake of the President of the Committee on economic, industrial policy and entrepreneurship of the Kostroma regional Duma Sergey Kalashnik. From the archive shows that this offshore company associated with the company Kostromskoy Zavod Avtokomponentov CJSC (ZAO “Kostroma plant of automotive components”), managed personally by the Deputy Sergey Kalashnikov. On the website of the industrial development Fund of the Ministry of industry and trade has information about what ZAO “ACA” received from the Fund in the form of concessional loans 300 million rubles, which is also a form of state support for Russian enterprises. The plant participates in the program of import substitution. Interestingly, the offshore Martimer Investments Limited ceased to exist just now – 30 April, after the first wave of publications of the Panama documents.

Published data has attracted the attention of regional media. Saratov journalists found on the website of the ICIJ in the archive of the previous offshore leaks #OffshoreLeaks information about the namesake of the former city Manager of Saratov Alexey Prokopenko, who is on the international wanted list on charges of fraud in especially large size. Their Chelyabinsk colleagues found an offshore company allegedly owned by the father of the Deputy of the state Duma Sergei Weinstein.

We should also mention the reaction of the Russian authorities. Publicly embarked on ignoring publish “stolen documents” – the press Secretary of the President Dmitry Peskov. However, immediately after the offshore scandal, the Ministry of Finance has submitted the government a bill banning MPs and civil servants (and their relatives and trusted individuals) to own shares in foreign companies. Officially, however, the document is not associated with Panamanian papers.

It would be naive to expect public recognition of the need for changes in the business climate in the country – to return the Russian business from offshore. Any pressure the Russian authorities perceive as a threat to the sovereignty of the country, that is, ultimately, yourself. But the hypocrisy at the state level has long been in the habit, so I think that on the background of the disparaging statements in the security services and other structures, in varying degrees, responsible for the fight against corruption, has already begun deep check published information about the owners of offshore companies. Assume that the denial of the obvious facts and the lack of action on the part of Russian officials, will only fuel international interest in the investigation of offshore chains with Russian residents.

The authors ‘ point of view, articles which are published in the section “Opinions” may not coincide with ideas of editorial.