Interviewed on Russian TV over the weekend, Boris Nemtsov reiterated his determination to abolish the idea of "authorized banks." These are banks to which the handling of federal budget accounts is specially assigned, and which as a result have opportunities to make profitable use of funds in transit. (A similar system operates also at the level of regional administrations.) Nemtsov said he will use his chairmanship of the antimonopoly committee to ensure that no bank will have insider privileges in the future. Former first deputy premier Vladimir Potanin, by contrast, is said to have ensured that accounts through which 60 percent of federal spending was disbursed were held in his own Oneksimbank. (ORT, NTV, March 22) Some observers have pointed out, however, that the real problem is not the existence of "authorized banks" as such, since government money has to be processed through some bank account or other, but that under prevailing conditions Russian financial services banks have abnormally large opportunities to make profits from federal and other funds while in transit.
Reaction to Helsinki Summit: Cautious Hope, Calls for Action.