86.951.959
Segui il Nord.it con il Feed RSS
I fatti e le opinioni del Nord - ilNord.it

 
LE NOTIZIE CHE GLI ALTRI NON SCRIVONO
Max Parisi

Did Putin Sink Cyprus?


THE blue-glass skyscrapers of Moscow City — fragments of Russia’s boom-time dream — are visible from the Kremlin walls, within which there was once hope that those towers could supplant the West’s financial centers. When the sun sets behind them, you can see that many of the offices lie empty.

In fact, the real hubs for Russian banking are in other countries. Moscow’s billionaires squirrel their fortunes abroad, and many businessmen register their companies as British, Dutch, Swiss or Cypriot — anything but Russian. Whistle-blowers would have us believe that even President Vladimir V. Putin stashes his money offshore.

Simply put, Russian money is frightened of Russia. This is because after Boris N. Yeltsin made the transition to crude capitalism in the 1990s, Mr. Putin never delivered secure property rights. That makes Russian money paranoid; since 2008 alone more than $350 billion in capital has fled the country.

These billions craved secrecy and security, and financial islands inside the European Union welcomed them. A love affair started, especially, between Cypriot banks and Russia’s cash. Only weeks ago, the Cypriot capital, Nicosia, was Russia’s most important offshore accountant. But today this financial paradise lies in economic ruin, its bloated banking sector wrecked by a gigantic exposure to Greek bonds. To save Cyprus from bankruptcy, a decree from the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank (known as “the troika”) is now confronting depositors in Cypriot banks with the loss of as much as 60 percent of deposits greater than $100,000, alongside tough new capital controls.

Nicosia was the second capital of Russian finance, after Moscow, and Russians are believed to account for the majority of the foreign accounts there worth over 100,000 euros.

According to the I.M.F., Cyprus was the destination for 34 percent of all outward investment from Russia in 2011, and accounted for 28 percent of foreign direct investment in Russia. But these gigantic flows did not reflect real investment overseas. They were overwhelmingly Russian cash “round-tripping” through Nicosia shell companies and re-entering as foreign investment. As the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, pointed out, this has raised suspicions of money laundering.

On the other hand, many legitimate Russian businessmen had funds there as well. Russia’s steel oligarchs controlled their companies through Cypriot holding companies. Many state-owned pillars of Russia’s economy also have Cyprus accounts, including the oil company Rosneft and the banks Sberbank and VTB.

How did so much Russian money end up in Cyprus? Mr. Putin took office in 2000 promising a “dictatorship of law,” but the moneymakers lost confidence in him. By 2003, the country’s richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, had been arrested, ultimately to be stripped of his biggest holdings and thrown into a Siberian prison, making it clear that what Mr. Putin really had in mind was manipulating the law to control any potential challenge from the oligarchs’ wealth.

So the capital flight that had begun in Russia’s “wild 1990s” never stopped. And by 2011 the I.M.F. reported that all of the top five national destinations for foreign investment in and out of Russia were tax havens — a sign that the funds were really offshore Russian money.

Russia’s middle class lost faith in Mr. Putin after 2008, when in the midst of the global financial crisis, the bureaucracy remained mired in Gogolian incompetence and venality. He had gutted the courts, media and local governments while focusing power in his party. That left little more than a servile web of patronage, a recipe for embezzlement of public funds. So more Russians put money in “safe” places like Cyprus.

Matters were made only worse when protests over election rigging charges in 2011 revived fears of a national implosion.

Last year, official capital flight hit $56 billion, and Mr. Putin’s own central bank calculated that two-thirds of that total might be traceable to illegal activity like drug money, kickbacks or tax fraud.

Why did Russians flock to Cyprus? Cyprus was in the European Union, with its rules and overseers — a nearby legal paradise where state confiscation was unthinkable. But now the troika’s raid on their accounts — Russians call it a theft — has given Russians a new dose of anti-Western passion and paranoia.

Whatever remains of the Russian fortunes in Nicosia seems sure to flee again — but not back to Russia. It may go to other European havens, like the Dutch Antilles and the British Virgin Islands. Malta and Luxembourg are possibilities, but analysts have both on bailout watch.

Meanwhile, Brussels is not impotent. The European Union must clamp down on offshore havens, insist on transparent banking and toughen up on money laundering. This is austerity Europe — and bloated tax havens not only put Europe at risk but also make its financial system complicit with offshore corruption.

But it cannot erase the truths exposed by the Nicosia bust. Europe, it turns out, is studded with vulnerable, contagious tax islands, and their availability only compounds Russia’s deeper problem: it is both too corrupt and too paranoid to keep its billions at home.

Ben Judah - New York Times 

Author of the forthcoming book “Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love With Vladimir Putin.”

 



 
Articolo precedente  Articolo Successivo

North Korea sparks crisis over workers from South.

 

Assange to run for Australian Senate, start Wikileaks party


 

 
Segui I Feed delle Brevi!
Brevi, quasi brevi? Brevissime!

FRANCIA SE NE FREGA DELLA UE: MASSICCI AIUTI DI STATO ALLE AZIENDE

26 maggio - PARIGI - Addio libero mercato, addio regole e regoline della Ue che
Continua

LEGA: LA UE DEVE IMPORRE SANZIONI AL REGIME COMUNISTA CINESE!

26 maggio - ''L'Europa non può essere silente davanti a quanto sta succedendo ad
Continua

INSEGNANTI PRECARI ILLUSI E TRADITI DAL GOVERNO CONTE, TUTTO

25 maggio - ''Polpetta avvelenata di Conte a Pd e LeU durante la trattativa sul
Continua

FONTANA:ZERO DECESSI IN LOMBARDIA E' DATO POSITIVO MA NON

25 maggio - MILANO - ''La cosa che mi rasserena e' il numero dei nuovi contagiati
Continua

L'ACQUISTO DI BTP ''ITALIA'' DEDICATI AI RISPARMIATORI PRIVATI HA

19 maggio - Gli ordini del retail per il nuovo BTp Italia hanno superato i 4
Continua

SALVINI: 120 NAZIONI DEL MONDO CHIEDONO SPIEGAZIONI ALLA CINA, E

19 maggio - ''Ci sono 120 paesi al mondo, in tutto il mondo, in tutti i continenti,
Continua

FONTANA: D'ACCORDO CON ZAIA, ABBIAMO DOVUTO FARE DA SOLI CONTRO IL

19 maggio - MILANO - Il governatore lombardo Attilio Fontana, in collegamento su Rai
Continua

IERI VENDUTI 4 MILIARDI DI BTP ''ITALIA'' AI RISPARMIATORI OGGI 1

19 maggio - MILANO - Parte forte anche la seconda giornata di collocamento, sempre
Continua

SALVINI: AVEVO RAGIONE, ALTRO CHE MES, BOOM ACQUISTI DEGLI ITALIANI

18 maggio - Il leader della Lega, Matteo Salvini, commenta la partenza ''a razzo''
Continua

TOTI: LIGURIA NON HA MAI CHIUSO, ADESSO RIAPRIRE I CONFINI

18 maggio - GENOVA - ''La Liguria non ha mai chiuso: i suoi porti hanno sempre
Continua

PERQUISIZIONI IN CORSO DEL ROS DEI CARABINIERI NELLA SEDE ONLUS

15 maggio - FANO - Perquisizioni in corso, da questa mattina, da parte dei
Continua

DIMISSIONI A CATENA AL MINISTERO DELLA GIUSTIZIA: TUTTA GENTE DI

15 maggio - ''Prima le dimissioni di Basentini, capo del Dap, ora quelle di Baldi,
Continua

FONTANA: TEST SIEROLOGICI INUTILI PER SINGOLI, SONO TEST

15 maggio - MILANO. ''I test sierologici sono inutili per cittadini singoli che non
Continua

GOVERNATORE FONTANA: MES? E' PERICOLO ESTREMO, STESSI SOLDI IN

15 maggio - MILANO - ''La vedo come una situazione di estremo pericolo perche' le
Continua

IN GERMANIA IERI 101 MORTI DA COVID 913 NUOVI CONTAGIATI

15 maggio - BERLINO - I casi di coronavirus in Germania sono saliti a 173.152
Continua

IN GERMANIA DIMINUISCONO I MORTI DA COVID MA AUMENTANO I CONTAGI

14 maggio - BERLINO - La Germania registra 89 decessi per Covid-19 nelle ultime 24
Continua

QUESTO E' IL MOMENTO DI FARE LA FLAT TAX PER SALVARE L'ITALIA

14 maggio - ''La proposta di taglio fiscale l'abbiamo messa nelle mani del governo,
Continua

BANKITALIA: L'IMPATTO DEL CORONAVIRUS SULL'ECONOMIA SARA' ENORME

12 maggio - ROMA - ''I dati disponibili sulla fiducia e le aspettative di famiglie e
Continua

RIPRENDONO A CRESCERE I CASI DI COVID IN GERMANIA: DA 357 A 933 IN

12 maggio - BERLINO - Crescono i casi ed i decessi per coronavirus in Germania.
Continua

GERMANIA: SALE ANCORA LEGGERMENTE L'INDICE DI CONTAGIO, ADESSO R0 =

11 maggio - BERLINO - In Germania il tasso di riproduzione del contagio da
Continua