Putin Asks Rich Russians To Bring Back $1 Trillion As Sanctions “Pressure Gets Worse

Will Racke | Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter

Russian President Vladimir Putin is backing a capital amnesty plan in hopes that wealthy Russians will repatriate some of their overseas assets, a move that could bolster the Russian economy as U.S. sanctions take hold.

The plan would waive Russia’s 13 percent tax on personal income for assets currently parked overseas, reported Bloomberg, citing Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

The new capital amnesty plan was needed “given the foreign restrictions, which instead of lessening are now worsening,” Putin said in a speech to lawmakers late Monday. The plan “should stimulate the return of capital to Russia,” he added.

Moscow has downplayed the effect of U.S. sanctions since they were first imposed in response to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine in 2014. But as Washington has levied new sanctions in President Donald Trump’s first year, including freezing the personal assets of Russian individuals, Moscow has launched several initiatives to help rich Russians keep their money outside U.S. treasury jurisdiction.

In addition to the capital amnesty plan, Putin approved last week the issuance of special foreign-currency bonds to attract overseas Russian capital. Russian finance officials expect to raise up to $3 billion through the repatriation bonds.

A U.S. law passed this summer requires the Treasury Department to compile a list of Russian “oligarchs” that could be penalized with additional sanctions. The measure also asks for a study measuring the effects of prohibiting U.S. investors from purchasing Russian bonds, that could hurt Moscow’s ability to raise capital in credit markets. (RELATED: Treasury Sanctions Key Putin Ally)

Russia has accused the U.S. of unfairly targeting individual Russians with ties to the Kremlin. Moscow has not released a definitive figure for the amount of wealth held by Russians overseas, however, the National Bureau of Economic Research estimates the value at 75 percent of Russia’s national income — or $1.04 trillion.

“We and our entrepreneurs have repeatedly faced unjustified and illegal asset freezes under the guise of sanctions,” Peskov said Tuesday. “The president’s initiative aims to create comfortable conditions for businesses if they want to use this opportunity to repatriate their capital.”

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