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Russian central bank restricts transactions with Kazakhstani suppliers

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Central Bank of Russia has limited the outflow of capital to Kazakhstan. The Russian banks now have to check the authenticity of documents on import transactions with Kazakhstan companies on the website of the Federal Tax Service, tengrinews reports citing Izvestia.

The corresponding letter was sent to Russian commercial lenders. The emphasis in the document was made specifically on Kazakhstan. 

Earlier, the Central Bank had warned that transactions on advance payment for goods by Russian companies to foreign contractors had to be identified as questionable. The Central Bank pointed out that it often happens that a Russian company pays for goods to a foreign party, but the goods end up never being imported. This is called fictitious import.

According to a source close to the Central Bank of Russia, the problem of fictitious imports is not so acute in Belarus, another member-state of the Customs Union and the Eurasian Union. In the letter, deputy chairman of the Central Bank of Russia Dmitry Skobelkin reminded the banks that they had to pay special attention to all transactions involving Kazakhstani companies and money transfers from Russian banks as per the Federal Anti-Money Laundering Law (115-FZ).

The problem of fictitious import arose because of the simplified trade turnover within the Customs Union, which requires only simple filling out of consignment vouchers on goods when crossing borders without any need for additional customs clearance.

In order to avoid the capital flight, the Central Bank of Russia first demanded to authenticate the vouchers via various external sources, then it asked to check if suppliers were real, after which it allowed the banks to refuse customers to conduct suspicious transactions and close accounts of such questionable clients.

However, in 2014 the Central Bank of Russia found that Kazakhstani money-laundering schemes evolved. Before, the money for allegedly imported goods from Kazakhstan went straight to offshore companies. Whereas in 2014 they were kept in Russian banks for a while before being transferred to offshore accounts. According to the Central Bank, this methods were used in tax evasion and money laundering schemes, as well as to pay for grey imports.

Due to the fact that the Central Bank of Russia has tightened the requirements towards transactions with companies of the Customs Union, some Russian banks have completely given up services to importers from Belarus and Kazakhstan.

"Russian banks are so intimidated by the regulator about the settlement with Kazakhstan and Belarus, that they are denying services to all customers who have at least something to do with these countries,” said the chairman of the Bank of Settlements and Savings Oleg Baranovsky. “This is to say that the banks don’t even examine the documents. Playing it safe, they simply don’t provide services to these customers. The only exceptions are state-owned banks that work with large companies that lead foreign economic activity in Belarus and Kazakhstan."

According to the Eurasian Economic Commission, the total trade turnover between the members of the Customs Union - Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus - in 2013 made $64.1 billion. According to the Russian Federal Customs Service, mineral products (36.3%), machinery, equipment and vehicles (18.1%), metals and metal products (16.1%), chemical products and rubber (12.3%) constituted the largest shares in the mutual supply between Russia and Kazakhstan.

January 14 2015, 17:15

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