Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 102

The Russian press, quoting a statement made recently by a "high ranking Interpol official," reports that from $150 to $300 billion have "drained" from Russia since 1991. (Delovoi mir, No. 58, 1997) According to this official, experts estimate that $1-2 billion are taken out of Russia every month, and that the Russian side "is very worried about the illegal export of hard currency abroad." So-called "new Russians" are said to have invested more than 2 billion markkas in Finland alone, and have acquired approximately 200 properties. Almost 1500 firms are headed by Russian emigres in Finland.

According to the Interpol official, a primary topic of discussion between Russian vice premier and interior minister Anatoly Kulikov and Interpol general secretary Raymond Kendall during talks held at Interpol’s headquarters in Lyon last month was "the international organization’s capabilities for finding and confiscating income from criminal activity."

If these reports on Kulikov’s negotiations with the Interpol representative are reliable, it follows that most of the money brought out of Russia to foreign countries was received as the result of illegal activity or by means of committing various sorts of crimes. Moreover, according to the Russian media, the flight of capital abroad is an indirect indicator of the level of corruption in Russia, and, simultaneously, of a lack of confidence in their own government among those Russians having money.

This process is made even more pernicious, according to the press, by the fact that foreigners are unlikely to risk making large-scale, long-term investments in the Russian economy so long as Russian businessmen keep sending money abroad. It is well-known that the main reason for the drain of capital is the search for greater reliability, both in terms of preserving principal and in terms of return on investment. In the Russian case, there are the additional reasons of tax evasion and the domination of criminal capital.

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