Moscow Tax Police Target Laundering
MOSCOW (AP) _ The head of Russia’s tax police has called for the creation of a financial intelligence service that would track money flows in a bid to combat money laundering and tax evasion, a news agency reported Friday.
Vyacheslav Soltaganov said the service, which could be independent or work as a branch of the Finance Ministry or Central Bank, would be aware of any transaction exceeding $5,000, the Interfax news agency reported.
``The financial intelligence service would monitor, among other things, payments, transactions with securities and real estate, check them against addresses, names, accounts and types of commodities,″ Soltaganov said, according to Interfax. ``Thus, a whole monitoring system would be developed allowing the definition of accounts, names and banks to which significant financial flows are directed.″
Russian law already requires banks to report any transaction exceeding $10,000 to the authorities, and various government agencies, including Soltaganov’s tax police, are supposed to combat money-laundering.
However, strict laws and a massive tax police force have proven unable to stem massive money-laundering and capital flight from Russia.
Soltaganov argued that the new service must be staffed by civilians and kept separate from police, but wouldn’t explain why that would boost its effectiveness or make it less prone to the rampant corruption that hinders law enforcement in Russia.
``I am categorically opposed to the formation of such a service within the Federal Tax Police,″ he said. ``If we do that, tomorrow everyone will start yelling that we are forming a police state and people in uniforms want to look through everyone’s keyhole.″
Some critics have interpreted such plans as a signal that President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, wants police controls similar to those during Soviet times. The government denies having any such intention.