Under the hood: the State Duma legalized total control of transfers to Russians from abroad

The State Duma adopted a law that obliges Russian banks to report all arbitrarily small receipts to the accounts of Russians from some countries of the world. It is a secret which countries exactly: their list will not be published. How the authorities plan to use this information is anyone’s guess.

Amendments to the current law “On combating the legalization (laundering) of proceeds from crime …” were introduced into the bill, which initially did not imply anything of the kind: it dealt with unwanted foreign or international organizations whose work on the territory of Russia is prohibited. Since 2015, the Ministry of Justice has been keeping a register of such organizations, the connection with which threatens Russians with administrative and criminal liability, and now there are 34 structures in it. Now, problems with law enforcement agencies are also promised to those who take part in the activities of undesirable organizations abroad.

When the relevant Security and Anti-Corruption Committee last week discussed the text of this initiative for the second reading, at the suggestion of the government and the head of the committee, Vasily Piskarev (“United Russia”), unexpectedly important changes were made.

It is worth remembering that even now information about the movement of money in the accounts of Russians in certain cases is immediately transmitted by banks to Rosfinmonitoring. For example, all transactions in the amount of more than 600 thousand rubles are subject to mandatory control, as well as all receipts to the accounts of Russians from those countries that do not comply with the recommendations of GRECO (the Group for the Development of Financial Measures to Combat Money Laundering, Russia is a member of this international organization). But from October 1, 2021, all, without exception, receipts to the accounts of Russians and Russian organizations from any citizens or organizations from countries included in a special list will be subject to mandatory control. Information about which countries are included in it will be of “limited access”, that is, only banks and the compilers themselves will be able to get acquainted with it.

This means that a Russian who received at least 10 dollars, even a million euros from a country that was included in the secret list, will not be a dream or a spirit that he is already under the cap of financial intelligence. What kind of money? At least what! Translation from a grandmother or son. Payment for some services. Dividends. Inheritance. Money from the return of things bought in a foreign store … For some reason, many Russians think that Ukraine or Belarus, like other countries of the former USSR, are not abroad. And they are wrong.

Why does the authorities need to track sometimes penny transfers? Mr. Piskarev (“United Russia”) explains everything by the need to ensure “transparency of financing of non-profit organizations, and nothing more.” They say that sometimes NGOs, in order not to be included in the register of “foreign agents,” receive funds not directly from foreign organizations or citizens, but through Russians and Russian organizations. To track these flows and close the loophole, everything was started. By the way, at the same time, the government’s amendments put under financial control all the income and expenses of all non-profit organizations without exception (while Rosfinmonitoring is only interested in amounts of 100 thousand rubles or more).

The National Council of the Financial Market and the Association of Russian Banks, having familiarized themselves with the amendments, grabbed their heads and sent appeals to the State Duma. Bankers believe that it will be necessary to manually track ALL receipts from certain countries to the accounts of ALL Russians and ALL organizations, this is very laborious, new employees and a lot of money will be needed – they asked at least to postpone the introduction of new requirements for several months. But the appeals were silently ignored. Usually, such an attitude of the parliament to the collective appeal of influential professional and business communities is observed only in those cases when a law is adopted, which the Kremlin has decided to pass without fail in a form that has caused someone to displease.

The head of the Duma Committee on the Financial Market Anatoly Aksakov (“SR”) told MK that he learned about these amendments only at the beginning of this week, and his committee did not take any part in their discussion. “I understand banks that will have to reconfigure their software and reporting system, and these are costs. I also understand the government that initiated these amendments, since financial flows can be used in different ways. 90% of the citizens who came under the control are respectable recipients of money, but there are those who hold all-Russian protest actions with this money, ”he said.

From the ocean of banking information, the authorities, therefore, will fish out messages about those who are recognized as disloyal. And then I received money from abroad, and then (but not because of – there is no need to prove the connection between the money and the actions under Russian law) supported some kind of open letter or appeal to the authorities – here is a ready-made “foreign agent”. And if you have transferred at least three rubles to some non-profit organization, which has also come under scrutiny, you can make it a “foreign agent” too. The process of stamping the carriers of this “honorary” title will be simplified and accelerated.

“The maintenance of the army is a big expense, the security forces are also, and it is quite possible to say that all of them are a heavy burden on the shoulders of taxpayers, but when it comes to the security of the state, the issue is usually viewed from a different angle,” said Mr. Aksakov. So the “respectable” and loyal, apparently, will simply have to pay more for banking services – Mr. Piskarev said from the rostrum of the State Duma that the law is aimed at “protecting the sovereignty and security of the state” …

Published in the newspaper “Moskovsky Komsomolets” No. 28556 dated June 10, 2021

Newspaper headline:
Citizens will pay for foreign agents

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The article from the source

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